GMOs in Foods Labeled 'Natural'?
- Tuesday, 09 October 2012
It seems that much of what we read lately somehow relates to the topic of GMOs - genetically engineered organisms.
It is an especially hot topic if you live in California with the vote for Prop 37 just around the corner, taking place on November 6th.
As consumers, we are becoming more aware of the toxic chemicals found in our food supply and we are fighting to do something about it. If Prop 37 passes, it will be a huge step in the right direction for consumers, as it would force manufacturers to disclose the use of GMOs on their labels.
When news broke about the GMO corn study last week, I noted that a good portion of the media coverage appeared on the business pages of online newspapers and magazines. It is no surprise that our food supply is first and foremost a dollar issue rather than a health or safety issue. This has been made apparent by the enormous amount of financial support opposing Prop 37. If you haven't already seen the infographic that has gone viral, you can view it here. The image depicts which companies are 'for' or 'against' Prop 37. The primary reason companies like Coca Cola, Kellogg’s and Pepsico are against the measure is money. No big surprise. The main issue these corporate giants have with the proposition is the way the law is written. They fear it will open the door for class action lawsuits like it did with its predecessor—Prop 65.
Prop 65 was passed in 2010 and states that companies must place warnings on their labels if any of the ingredients found in their products cause cancer or harm to any reproductive system. To date, more than 350 suits have been filed against companies since Prop 65 was put into place. I had the opportunity to speak with a California company who had the words 'all-natural' written on their label. Unbeknownst to the company, they were using an ingredient from a third party supplier who told them this particular ingredient was the natural, and not synthetic version. The supplier was wrong. This particular company had a class action lawsuit filed against them by a consumer who somehow tested for this synthetic ingredient in a third party laboratory (from what I understand, this consumer is well-known to manufacturers in CA and is making a lot of money off these lawsuits). The company eventually settled out of court in order to avoid the bad press but this is the major reason large corporations are against the proposition passing.
Another reason for the opposition might be because it will be costly for companies to create two different labels: one label for products sold in the state of California and another label for the rest of the country. You might wonder why the need for two different labels – why not one label for the whole country? My guess is because if they aren’t required to disclose that their products contain GMOs, why would they go out of their way to do so? A sad fact. But the apparent reality.
You may have heard some are calling for a boycott of natural and organic brands owned by the larger corporations fighting Prop 37. While I fully understand the concept - hit these companies hard where it hurts - their profits, I don't fully agree. In fact, by boycotting thesebrands we may be hurting ourselves. Because the natural and organic brands listed are owned by corporate giants, they are readily available and can be found in mass-market grocery chains, convenience stores, big box stores and even pharmacies. If we boycott them, and the giants decide to discontinue these brands, it may leave us no choice but to purchase conventional, GMO-laden, pesticide filled alternatives. You might prefer to support a brand that provides full disclosure labeling and supports Prop 37. I agree that is the better option, but these fantastic organic brands may then be hard to find on store shelves. With the exception of Nature's Path, (a superb company I often promote - they were included several times in our book Unjunk Your Junk Food, Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks), and a few other well known brands, many of the high quality, organic brands are still working hard to gain national distribution. Until organic product choices are as readily available as conventional ones, I disagree with the boycott.
Over the past 14 years, I have worked with both Knudsen and Santa Cruz Organic and I really believe they make good quality products. It would be a shame if couldn't tell you about their high-quality organic products because I was told me to boycott their parent company, J.M. Smucker.
I'm just not convinced a boycott is the way to go.
Naturally Savvy supports Prop 37 and feel we are at a crucial time in making history. We encourage you to do whatever you can to help create this change. You can do this in several ways:
1. If you know anyone who lives in the state of California, educate them on the subject. Stress the importance of this law and encourage them to vote in favor of Prop 37 on November 6th.
2. Sign the petition.
3. Donate whatever you can to support the cause.
We are at a pivotal time in history. Join us as we stand united to protect our food supply. Because as consumers, we deserve to know what is in the food we are eating—not only for our own health, but also for our children’s and future generations.