The Defeat of Prop 37 – Californians Defending Their Right NOT to Know

Written by Jill Chapin. Posted in Healthcare, Opinion, Politics

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Published on November 09, 2012 with 15 Comments

Californians voted against their best interests Tuesday, rejecting Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

By Jill Chapin

November 9, 2012

Sometimes you have to wonder why otherwise intelligent citizens vote against their own best interests. Proposition 37 was simply about our right to know when foods have been genetically engineered. It’s about the label, not the food. That’s all. Prop 37 only wanted to identify food that has been genetically altered so that we can know what we are ingesting. This proposition was not about banning anything; it was about giving you a heads up before you reached for one head of lettuce or another. Why weren’t more Californians indignant and even alarmed about anyone who attempts to block us from knowing something?

Apparently certain buzz words such as expensive or bureaucratic in the opponents’ literature was enough for people to stop thinking it through to better understand the motives behind those who opposed it. Their reasons might seem sound at first blush, such as increased costs to consumers due to extra documentation work involved, but there are other considerations much more important than pricing that we should have thought about before voting No.

For example, we should have followed the money. According to the Los Angeles Times, large campaign contributions were given by big biotech companies like Monsanto. Is it likely that those who have enormous financial incentives with this proposition’s defeat would have your best health interests in mind? Why were they working so hard to defeat a measure that was designed to simply offer the consumer information? Could it be the same reason why they fought so hard and long to prevent dairies from putting “hormone free” on their milk cartons?

Anti Prop 37 companies such as Monsanto and Dupont stand to benefit tremendously from genetically altered food; after all, it’s another product on the market. And keep in mind that Monsanto’s research on genetically altered foods is all about making crops more profitable, not more nutritious.

You have to wonder why the United States lags behind the rest of the world in recognizing the potential danger from genetically altered food. Sixty one countries apparently respect their citizens more than ours does, as they believe everyone has a right to know what they are eating, and altered foods are labeled as such.

One of these alterations is a corn modified with a bacterial gene that secretes a poison to kills pests. What would happen if these poisons should then attack our internal organs as it mistakenly recognizes us as a pest? This could become the science fiction nightmare of genetically engineered traits escaping into nature.

Too many people dismiss these concerns because the FDA has decreed that there was no difference between genetically engineered and non-engineered plants. But believing the FDA is akin to trusting those who insisted that the back scatter x-ray machines at airports were perfectly safe. If so, why then were children not allowed to go through them, and more importantly, why have they been removed from major airports, replaced by machines using only radio waves?

For the millions who naively believed those airport machines were perfectly safe and well-maintained, they now must wonder how much exposure they were subjected to and how much has that exposure increased their risk of getting cancer.

And now we will be eating allegedly perfectly safe mystery food until further research may indicate that perhaps supposed experts also miscalculated. But until then, how much damage to our health will we have incurred?

What we put in our bodies determines our health and our life span. It is disturbing that voters did not have this basic fact of life in mind as they read the pros and cons of Prop 37.

Besides companies such as Monsanto benefiting from these mutant foods, there are others who may also reap the rewards of us eating what is essentially a new definition of food. It has been said that twenty-five percent of what you eat keeps you alive; seventy-five percent of what you eat keeps your doctor alive.

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin has been a guest writer and columnist in several Los Angeles area papers for over fifteen years. She has written a bilingual parenting book titled, "If You Have Kids, Then Be a Parent!" and a children's book entitled, "My Magic Bubble."

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