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California Ballot Initiative to Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods Submitted to Attorney General
Wide-Ranging Coalition Seeks to Secure Initiative on November 2012 Ballot
LabelGMOs.org and Coalition Partners, Posted Nov 10, 2011
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, a wide-ranging coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. The initiative requires genetically engineered foods (also known as Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs) and foods containing GMO ingredients to be clearly labeled, similar to current labels with other nutritional information.
A genetically engineered food is usually a plant or animal that has had its DNA altered at the molecular level in a lab to include genes that produce foreign compounds from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria. This genetic alteration is not found in nature and cannot occur naturally. Californians currently unknowingly are eating many different genetically engineered foods, because these foods are not required to be labeled.
” Genetic engineering adds completely new elements into our food. Because the FDA has failed to require labeling of GMO food, this initiative closes a critical loophole in food labeling law. It will allow Californians to choose what they buy and eat and will allow health professionals to track any potential adverse health impacts of these foods.” says Andy Kimbrell, Director of the Center for Food Safety. “Genetically engineering food can cause unintended consequences and because there have been no long term studies, we are unsure of how GMOs may affect our health.”
Manipulating genes in a lab is imprecise and unpredictable and the results aren’t always controllable. Genetically engineering food can create new, unexpected toxicants, increase allergies, lower nutrition, and create other health risks. The two most common genetically engineered traits are the expression of an insecticide in “Bt Corn” and the expression of a compound in “Roundup Ready Soy” which enables high doses of Monsanto’s RoundupÂ® weed killer to be sprayed while the plant survives. A genetically engineered salmon with genes from an eel that doubles growth rate is likely to be approved for sale soon in the US.
“Californians have a right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our children,” says Robyn O’Brien, author and founder of the Allergy Kids Foundation. “I support labeling genetically engineered foods because allergy-sensitive people can exercise caution with essential information to make informed decisions about what they eat.”
Fifty countries including the European Union and Japan have laws mandating that genetically engineered foods be labeled, but the United States does not have such a requirement. Public opinion polls indicate that over 90 percent of California voters support the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Efforts to enact labeling laws in Congress and the California legislature have been blocked by big food and chemical company lobbyists. This measure will take the issue directly to the people to decide whether genetically engineered foods should be labeled.
The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act was carefully and specifically written to avoid any unnecessary burden or cost to consumers or producers. California voters are expected to have the chance to vote on the initiative in November 2012.
You Don’t Have to Stand Alone Against Genetically Engineered Food (GMOs)!
Together Let’s Demand GMO Labeling Now!
Join the GMO Right2Know March Oct 1-16, 2011
Most Americans agree we have a right to know what’s in our food, and a right to choose safe, healthy food for our families and ourselves. And yet 80% of the packaged foods in America contain Genetically Engineered ingredients that have not been proven safe, and are not labeled!
Between October 1st and October 16th of this year, marchers from all across the country will be walking from New York City to the White House, in Washington DC, demanding labeling of all Genetically Engineered Foods, in what has come to be called the GMO Right2Know march. Come walk with us – step-by-step we will take back our Right to Know!
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) endanger our health, the environment, and our farmer’s livelihoods. For too long, biotechnology companies like Monsanto have lobbied against labeling products containing their patented plants – plants which are specially designed to be sprayed with cancer-causing weed-killers, and plants which produce pesticides in every one of their cells.
The GMO Right2Know March is the first of it’s kind in America, and will have daily events between its kickoff in New York City and its finale at the White House, in Washington, DC. Come for the knowledgeable speakers, fun presentations, camping, and much, much more! Now is your chance to make your voice heard. We will win back our Right to Know what’s in our food – one step at a time!
Sign up, bring a group, and join the Right2Know community! We are looking for walkers, bikers, drivers, volunteers, cheerleaders, hosts, and any other supporters out there!
Join us as we march from New York City to the White House in Washington DC from October 1 – October 16, 2011 for this historic march.
Why Get Involved?
These recent actions have created momentum to rally for the right to know about GMOs:
The decisions by the USDA to approve genetically modified Round-Up Ready™alfalfa seeds to be grown without restrictions.
The court decision to hold Bayer responsible for the LibertyLink contamination of rice.
The pre-emptive action by organic farmers and seed sellers to sue Monsanto for protection from patents on genetically
The growth of the U.S. organic industry to $28.6 billion in 2010
The participation of hundreds of companies in the Non-GMO Project Grassroots organizing of the March 26th Right to Know Rallies and the response of 68,478 letters to Congress asking for GMO Labeling.
The eighty-three family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed filed papers in federal court today defending their right to seek legal protection from the threat of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) represents the plaintiffs in the suit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA), et al. v. Monsanto and pending in the Southern District of New York. Today’s filings respond to a motion filed by Monsanto in mid-July to have the case dismissed.
“Rather than give a straight forward answer on whether they would sue our clients for patent infringement if they are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed, Monsanto has instead chosen to try to deny our clients the right to receive legal protection from the courts,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “Today’s filings include sworn statements by several of the plaintiffs themselves explaining to the court how the risk of contamination by transgenic seed is real and why they cannot trust Monsanto to not use an occurrence of contamination as a basis to accuse them of patent infringement.”
Plaintiffs Bryce Stephens, who farms in Kansas, Frederick Kirschenmann, who farms in North Dakota, C.R. Lawn, who is founder and co-owner of Fedco Seeds in Maine, Don Patterson of Virginia, and Chuck Noble, who farms in South Dakota, each submitted declarations to the court describing their personal experiences with the risk of contamination by genetically modified seed and why those experiences have forced them to bring the current suit asking the court to declare that Monsanto could never sue them for patent infringement if they were ever contaminated by Monsanto’s GMO seed. As summarized by the accompanying brief filed by PUBPAT on the plaintiffs’ behalf, “Monsanto’s acts of widespread patent assertion and plaintiffs’ ever growing risk of contamination create a real, immediate and substantial dispute between them.”
Twelve agricultural organizations also filed a friend-of-the-court amici brief supporting the right of the plaintiffs to bring the case. In their brief, the amici describe some of the harmful effects of genetically modified seed and how easily GMOs can contaminate an organic or conventional farmer’s land. The organizations filing the amici brief were Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Fair Food Matters, International Organic Inspectors Association, Michigan Land Trustees, Natural Environment Ecological Management, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Association, Organic Council of Ontario, Slow Food USA, and Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association. (The full text of the filings can be found at:
Here’s an article from Mother Jones by Tom Philpott…
It’s a hoary bureaucratic trick, making a controversial announcement on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend, when most people are daydreaming about what beer to buy on the way home from work, or are checking movie times online. But that’s precisely what the US Department of Agriculture pulled last Friday.
Read more at Mother Jones….
Just read this article off of the Organic Consumers Association website. An article by Gary Ruskin for Global Research Centre for Research on Globalization. President Obama announced that he will recess appoint Islam A. Siddiqui to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. See the full article here.