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In the Aftermath of Prop 37: How to Avoid GMO Foods?

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In the Aftermath of Prop 37: How to Avoid GMO Foods?
Prop 37, California’s initiative requiring labeling of genetically modified foods, was cast down in an almost split vote on Election Day. 47% of voters supported the initiative, vs. 53% voting no. Prop 37’s demographics bear remarkable similarity to the national elections: the more liberal coastal, Humboldt and mountain areas supported the initiative, while inland, rural conservative counties opposed the measure. Over 2000 organic farmers, as well as a number of farming advocacy organizations came forward to support the measure. Farmers who are already growing GMO crops stood against the initiative, even though poll after poll in both California and the rest of the nation indicate that 90% of people want their food labeled. In a move that reflects the interconnectedness of our ecosystems, many commercial and recreational fishing organizations supported Prop 37 as well, because of the ramifications of GMOs on the salmon industry and the creation of “Frankenfish”. More pesticides on our crops mean more in our oceans. One month before the election, Prop 37 was holding a significant 2 to 1 lead. So what happened?

The ‘No on 37” campaign was remarkably well funded: $5 poured into No on 37 for every $1 in favor of mandatory labeling. Big business put big muscle behind the campaign, and contributed over 46 million dollars to squash Prop 37. Monsanto made the single largest donation, with $8.1 dropped into the coffers. No on 37 is currently being investigated for having created false and misleading statements attributed to
1) The FDA
2) The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
3) Stanford University
4) Several newspapers
During the final month leading up to Election Day, a massive advertising blitz was mounted to shift focus away from the very real issue at hand: our right to know what is in our food.
We are back at the drawing boards, but consumers can push back with their immense buying power. Whole Foods Market waited until 3 days before the election to make a $25,000 donation to Yes on 37 in a move that smacked of tokenism. In 2010 Whole Foods net sales amounted to $10.1 BILLION. Consumer buying dollars have power, and that power can be leveraged. Customers can demand that Whole Foods and other retailers bring integrity to merchandising. We can demand that companies we purchase from be proactive about giving their customers honest information. We can become educated label readers and do our homework on sites like Non GMO Project which list companies and products that are non-GMO verified.
In addition, look for the following points. Not all certified organic non-GMO products are part of the Non GMO Project. Make a habit of reading labels on packaged foods. According to www.nongmoproject.org, the following foods are considered high risk:
• Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
• Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
• Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
• Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
• Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
• Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
• Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
• Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
Animal products (dairy, meat, Canadian honey and eggs) are also risky because of contaminated feed. Additionally, a slew of by-products are made from GMO high-risk crops:
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
These last ingredients are present in the vast majority of processed and packaged foods. A health-conscious population may be surprised to see things like Vitamin C on this list. Synthetically derived Vitamin C comes from corn, surprisingly. Vitamin E typically comes from soy. Vitamins A, B2, B6, and B12 may also have their origins in GMOs.
The Non-GMO Project maintains a Non-GMO shopping guide , which lists specific products across multiple categories that have been verified, as well as listing brands that are in the process of doing so. The list categories range from all types of foods (including a baby category) to beverages, skincare and vitamin supplements. The Institute for Responsible Technology offers comprehensive resources for education, information and action, including a shopping guide, films and more. Last, but not least, let’s continue to demand accountability about our food supply. Prop 37 will be back, better, stronger and prepared to fight for our right to know.

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