by Melissa Hughes

For those of us who have started to read labels, especially after having children, we have quickly learned there is a lot we don’t know. What is tartrazine (aka yellow #5)? How much salt is okay? Who sets the recommended daily values?

Even with these questions, I find that I have an inherent trust of the labels. Even if I don’t know how many grams of protein I need everyday, I trust that the label is telling me the correct amount of grams that the serving contains. And I trust that the ingredients listed are the ingredients contained in the product, and there is nothing else there. Being gluten-free and having a son and husband who are gluten-free makes this trust really important to me.

So as we all read labels, and try to make our best individualized choices, one piece of information that I consider important, and you may too, is whether or not a food contains or is made from genetically engineered (GE) products. Today, genetic engineering involves taking genes from one species and putting them into plants in order to make the plants resistant to chemical herbicides. We primarily see this in crops like corn and soy, but this technique is used in produce and meat as well.

I consider whether or not a food is produced using genetic engineering important for a variety of reasons. First, the cultivation of GE foods has resulted in a huge increase in the use of toxic pesticides. [1] Second, the only people who have “proven” that GE foods are safe are the chemical companies that are producing them. [2] Those are my two main reasons for wanting to know if my food contains GE ingredients. You may have others, but right now we are all left in the dark because there is no labeling requirement for GE foods.

That is why I am supporting Prop 37 in California, a ballot measure that will require the mandatory labeling of foods that contain GE ingredients. If Prop 37 is passed, it will be a significant step towards a food system in which we can make more informed choices about the type of agriculture we are supporting with our dollars. This is why I hope you will help spread the word to your friends and family in California.

Prop 37 will help restore trust in labels and an understanding of what is in our foods, which is why we here at Organic Valley have been supporting the campaign with financial donations and through our communications channels. A yes vote on Prop 37 is a vote for information and choice, and I hope you will do what you can to support it as well. Learn more at www.carighttoknow.org.

  1. Charles Benbrook, The Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Thirteen Years.  The Organic Center, November 2009. http://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/GE13YearsReport.pdf
  2. Rowell, A. "Immoral maize." Don't Worry, It's Safe to Eat. Earthscan Ltd. 2003. Excerpt from book available here: http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/Immoral_Maize:_Extract_from_Don't_Worry,_It's_Safe_to_Eat_by_Andrew_Rowell

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