Tag Archives: proposition 37

More On Proposition 37

 

Hi all!

I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was Sunday morning, when I received a message from Vani Hari, offoodbabe.com, inviting me to join her and Living Maxwell’s  fundraiser here in NYC for proposition 37. Not only did I have a great, 100% organic meal and meet two inspiring food activists who have largely influenced my blogging, but I also gained immensely important information about an important issue surrounding today’s food policy.

Proposition 37 is a current initiative taking place in California towards labeling genetically modified foods, which have been proven to reduce fertility, decrease immune functioning, and harm the surrounding ecosphere. The people of California vote on this proposition in November, and the vote will do more than change policy locally. Large food companies are unlikely to create certain labels specific to California— if the law passes there, we likely will see more labeling NATIONWIDE. I’ve already written about the difficulties of this proposition—the insane amount of money that Monsanto, PepsiCo, Kashi, and other food companies have put against it and the unfavorable precedent in Vermont. However, last night I learned about all the factors working in our favor, and how you can help push this country towards labeling GMO’s.  Here are some key positives I heard at last night’s event:

Fifteen States Have Similar Initiatives

Even if the law in California doesn’t pass (which let’s hope we don’t see happen!) fifteen other states, including Connecticut, Vermont, and New Jersey are undergoing similar battles. In addition to getting involved with the campaign in California, you can contribute your time and energy by volunteering with campaigns in these states. And the head of Connecticut’s campaign, attorney and activist Tara Cook-Littman, announced that she is looking for someone to head New York’s campaign—could it be you?

Me with Vani Hari and Living Maxwell. Such an honor to meet these two–they are even more inspiring in person than they are in writing!

Connecticut Has Received Legal Backing

If you read my previous blog on proposition 37 and food labeling, you remember that I believe that the biggest hurdle to the labeling law is not its passage, but rather its ability to withstand lawsuits in light of unfavorable legal precedent in Vermont that has held labeling laws to violate the first amendment. However, Connecticut has received the backing of its state Attorney General, who has vowed to defend the law if passed and faced with legal action. This particularly sticks out to me because it parallels the type of support that anti-tobacco advocates received in 1994, when the Mississippi attorney general was the first to go up against the tobacco industry for the healthcare costs to the state. While that case involved medical payments, not labeling, it succeeded on the basis of a similar premise—if your product causes medical harm to state constituents, it is your responsibility create a remedy.

Some Amazing Companies Are Committed to the Cause 

I was able to get familiar with some of the companies that are donating money in favor of proposition 37. These are companies who—despite the cost-benefits of producing genetically engineered foods—have committed to staying organic and to promoting policies that do the same. In addition, they taste delicious. Present at the fundraiser were representatives from the blueprint cleansegnosis chocolate ,and Kur Raw Superfoods , among others. I was able to chat with the CEO’s of Kur Raw, who are truly amazing people who have dedicated their time and money to supporting this cause. The restaurant hosting the event,GustOrganics, is also an amazing venue to support–not only because it is 100% certified organic, but also because the food is absolutely delicious! 

It seems that the more people get involved, the more fruitful this campaign will be. And if the crowd at last night’s event gave any indication of the campaign’s involvement, we’re definitely in luck. Thanks Food Babe and Living Maxwell for making this happen!

Gnosis raw chocolate with goji berries. They gave out samples for dessert at the end of the event. So delicious!

 

About Proposition 37

 There’s been a lot of buzz in the food world about Proposition 37, a proposed legislation in California that would require the labeling of all genetically engineered foods. While food advocates have been adamantly pushing its enactment, major food companies like PepsiCo have put forth millions of dollars against the cause. Do they have a chance?

Why Should We Care?

Despite  claims that genetically engineered foods are safe for human consumption, an overwhelming amount of research suggests the opposite. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has linked genetically modified food to infertility, immune problems, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The European government required the labeling of GM products after Dr Arpad Pusztai, a UK scientist originally hired to create a safety procedure for GM foods, announced the dangers of GM foods. And if the health hazards don’t convince you, several environmental concerns surround these products—cross contamination of GM crops with natural growing crops threatens altering entire ecosystems and the use of these products has already proven deadly to animals in surrounding areas.

Support

The amount of support growing towards the movement is immense. Recent polls predict the law’s passing, and you can’t go to a single organic newspaper or food blog without hearing about the push for labeling. However, the food industry has money and power on its side, and has already spent nearly $10 million against the campaign. With that money will come some excellent lawyers, along with some serious local advertising against the campaign.

Labeling and Freedom of Speech

In the United States, one case has been cited as working against Proposition 37: International Dairy Foods Association v. L. Amestoy C. In that case, a Vermont statute required dairy manufacturers to label milk products made using the growth hormone rBST. The 2nd circuit court concluded that the law was unconstitutional under the 1st amendment, as it compelled food companies to choose speech instead of silence. If voters enact Proposition 37 in California, lawyers working for the food industry will surely use this case to strike down Proposition 37 in court. Fortunately, International Dairy only serves as persuasive (not binding) authority, which means that California is not bound to follow that same logic. But since this type of case is unprecedented in California, lawyers for the campaign will have the task of showing why Proposition 37 is unlike the Vermont statute, or alternatively, why it would go against the interest of the California courts to follow Vermont’s logic.

How Can You Help?

The big push in the organic world is to boycott. While I am all for boycotting products that are donating against against Proposition 37, it seems that the people of California will vote for this law. A greater concern, in my opinion, is what will happen after (and if) the law passes–once everyone stops paying attention, and once PepsiCo and Monsanto bring a lawsuit against the state of California.  Although precedent is not in our favor, a loud buzz created up until the day of the trial may be able to influence the court’s decision when deciding whether or not to uphold Proposition 37. Public politicization of courtroom decisions can have a profound effect on judgments made in court–just look at Brown v. Board and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which upheld parts of Roe v. Wade).  So create that political fervor surrounding labeling organic foods by tweeting and writing to California judges and legislators, staying vocal through social media outlets, and volunteering your time to get the word out. And if you’re part of an official organization, business, or political group, endorse the campaign online.

In the meantime, keep yourself informed on the campaign and its developments.