MOMS Advocating Sustainability (MOMAS) supports voting YES on Proposition 37 for the upcoming election on Tuesday, November 6th. Proposition 37 requires companies to put a label on their food product if genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are used in the ingredients. It comes down to giving the consumer the opportunity to make an informed decision about the foods they and eat and feed their families. The consumer may still buy genetically modified (GM) food, but many will and already choose not to due to the heavy use of pesticides and negative effects on our environment, small/local farm culture, and our overall health.
Why are we concerned about GMO’s? We believe that the process of turning truly natural corn, for example, into GM corn is unhealthy on many levels. The corn’s DNA is altered in a laboratory so it can withstand heavy sprayings of pesticides. A common pesticide used is RoundUp, made by Monsanto. This practice prevents crop destroying bacteria, fungus and bugs from ruining the plants, however, these bacteria and fungus intelligently evolve to create stronger strains that become more resistant to the original pesticides, creating a market for stronger and more harmful pesticides (and fungicides, herbicides, etc). Meanwhile these chemicals – which are linked to allergies, asthma, cancer and other health problems – remain in our soil, water and food supply.
I know it’s kind of sad to see some of our favorite childhood food brands like Kelloggs and Coke be on the list of companies that use GMO’s. But now that I am an adult, mother of two, RN, and a conscience consumer trying to make the best decisions for my family, I choose not to support this industry. I’d rather pay a little extra for organic corn flakes than pretend that ignorance is bliss.
The big food corporations – who have a multi-million dollar campaign to see that Prop 37 does not pass – fear that if the public can read a statement on a bottle of salad dressing or a box of crackers that says “this product contains genetically modified ingredients” the consumers may not buy their product. Our goal is not to fear monger or harm the economy by boycotting certain companies but rather to change how these companies market and label their food – and to bring back some good ole fashioned honesty and integrity to the industry.
Some of the main GM food crops are corn, soy (soybean oil), sugar beets, cotton (cottonseed oil), canola (canola oil) and yellow zucchini. And buyer beware: corn, for example, has a few hundred other names because common ingredients are derived from GM corn including dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, ascorbic acid, caramel [coloring], cellulose, citrates, lactic acid, flavoring (both natural and artificial), sorbitol, xanthan gum, and the list goes on. Once I stared to get informed on this issue, my grocery list changed a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, my family and I still eat GM ingredients. They are hard to avoid completely since over 80% of conventional processed food sold in the US contains GMO ingredients. But when I have the choice, I choose to support and eat organic.
If Prop 37 passes, not only will the genetic modifying process become more transparent to the consumer but more regulation and research can be put forth so we can truly understand the health and ecological effects of GMO’s.
The opposition to Prop 37 passing claims it will increase food prices. Research shows that this is untrue if not negligible to the consumer and not a real concern for most voters. The passing of Prop 37 in California would be a landmark in our country since we would be the first state to require such labeling. We hope that other states will follow in our footsteps. 50 countries including the European Union, Japan and China already require GMO labeling. It’s about time we add the United States to this list.
So how can we become more informed about the food we eat and feed our families, and make healthier choices for our future? Vote YES on Prop 37 and we will be off to a great start!
Alissandra Bello, RN, has been involved in women and children’s health care for the past 10 years, working for Children’s Hospital Oakland, Planned Parenthood, and other hospitals and community clinics in the Bay Area. Prior to becoming a RN, Ali was a Spanish teacher for children and adults in Marin County. She learned Spanish as an exchange student and while traveling in Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Spain. She is currently a happy and busy mother of two, a newcomer to MOMAS and gradually converting her pantry and household to reflect a more environmentally sustainable and healthy lifestyle.