Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mark Bittman: "Buying the Vote on G.M.O.'s"

What can be bought with one million dollars a day? How about . . . our future. 

The overwhelming support for Prop 37, a California ballot initiative requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods, has been eroding steadily since the pesticide/chemical/seed companies and the processed food behemoths have ramped up their advertising (most of it lies).

Mark Bittman updates the situation in "Buying the Vote on G.M.O.'s" in today's online edition of The New York Times. Here's the meat of the article, but click here the read the entire piece.

"All of this could begin to change on Election Day, when California’s Proposition 37 — which would require the labeling of most foods containing G.M.O.’s — goes to a vote. On Sept. 15, I wrote that 'polls show Prop 37 to be overwhelmingly popular: roughly 65 percent for to 20 percent against, with 15 percent undecided.' But thanks to an infusion of big bucks by the opposition (led by Monsanto, DuPont and the Grocery Manufacturers Association[2]), support for labeling is eroding. By some accounts the 'no' advocates are spending $1 million a day, and a recent poll says the margin is now just 8 percent.
"A million a day is not much for the chemical companies, who are and should be panic-stricken — because labeling G.M.O.’s is inevitable. It’s already the norm elsewhere: more than 50 countries require it, including the entire European Union and China, which, despite being notoriously lax on food safety, sees the light on this.

"And the trend is toward more caution, not less: just last week a court-appointed panel in India recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of genetically modified food crops to allow time for strengthening regulation and research.

"We should have such luck. The closest we have to a G.M.O. oversight agency is the United States Department of Agriculture, probably the friendliest watchdog imaginable. The U.S.D.A. has consistently declined to regulate G.M.O.’s and in many cases has helped them become dominant in much of American agriculture.

"When asked about Prop 37, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: 'Obviously we’re watching it…. Maybe it’s time to think about it from a national perspective.'

"Vilsack and his boss (who once supported labeling, or said he did) will certainly give more consideration to labeling G.M.O.’s than would their wannabe replacements, who have in fact shilled for the biotech industry, but right now a 'yes' vote on Nov. 6 is the best way we can move toward having a choice about consuming G.M.O. foods. Which probably makes Prop 37 the most important popular vote on food policy this decade. If California resists the chemical companies’ scare tactics and votes 'yes,' G.M.O.’s in food could be over."

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