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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/1/12

$34.4 Million Can't Seem To Buy Prop 37 (GM Food-Labeling Bill) Opponents Their Own Facts, By Zack Kaldveer

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Message Zack Kaldveer

Apparently $34.4 million in pesticide and junk food money can't buy the opponents of Proposition 37 their own set of facts.

Case in point: A new L.A. Times poll shows Prop 37 winning by more than a 2-to-1 margin among registered California voters. And, according to the recent Pepperdine poll the opposition's support actually dropped four points over the past two weeks.

So while their treasure trove of special-interest money can pay for an endless supply of tired, discredited talking points , it can't seem to convince consumers we don't deserve to know what's in the food we eat.

It's not hard to understand why. The companies bankrolling the opposition campaign -- including pesticide giants Monsanto ($7.2 million) and Dupont ($4.9 million) -- will say and spend anything to prevent the kind of transparency that labeling of genetically modified (GMs) foods would provide. And without transparency there can be no accountability.

Here are a few facts: A growing body of research links GM foods to potential health risks, increased pesticide use, biodiversity loss, the emergence of "super bugs" and  "super weeds" and the unintentional contamination of conventional crops.

What Prop 37 will do is add a line of ink to a label -- as is currently required for 3,000 other ingredients -- so consumers know which products have been altered in a laboratory.  That's why the vast majority of Californians support this common-sense measure, and it's why 50 other countries already require that GM foods be labeled.

But that's not all : This summer, Monsanto began selling its first GM sweet-corn product at Walmart. The sweet corn is engineered to withstand the herbicide Roundup and also contains an insecticide (Bt toxin) within the cells of the corn.

Are your children eating Monsanto's latest concoction? You won't know because we don't require labeling. In response to Walmart's decision to undermine the will of its customers, the Yes on 37 campaign released a new ad highlighting the fact that California children are eating unlabeled GM sweet corn without the knowledge of their parents.

And now, recently published in the highly regarded journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, comes the first long-term,  peer-reviewed animal-feeding study involving GM corn.  Rats fed GM corn developed massive tumors and organ failure and died prematurely. These findings have prompted the French government to call for an investigation into GM foods, and Russia to suspend imports of GM corn.

The study was roundly criticized by Monsanto's band of scientists, who were out in force trying to discredit the study design -- but what they failed to mention is that Monsanto's own studies that supposedly indicate "safety" are based on the same study design: similar size study, same rats. The only real differences is that the French study was free of industry influence and pressure, was more comprehensive and stringent, and was long-term rather than short.

The most shocking thing of all about the French study is that it is the first long-term feeding study on genetically engineered corn that has been on the American market for more than 15 years. So where's the science? The reason we have been denied such critical information is that biotech companies like Monsanto have controlled and suppressed research.

We need and deserve more independent research in this area. In the mean time, we have a right to know and to decide for ourselves whether we want to eat Monsanto's genetically engineered corn. Prop 37 will give us that right.

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Zack Kaldveer is the Assistant Media Director for the Organic Consumers Association. Zack served as the Assistant Media Director for California's Prop 37 campaign (labeling of genetically modified foods) and was the former Communications Director (more...)
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