GMO: Now, We’ll never know

Even though I’m Canadian, I was watching the election with bated breath. Not only because I’m a firm Obama suporter, but because I believed strongly in Prop 37.

Proposition 37 was a landmark proposition put to Californian voters to label GMO foods. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming voter support a few months ago, Prop 37 was defeated after a $45M ad campaign from companies wanting to block it.

I’m a firm believer that labelling works. Not only does it guide consumers in making the best choices, but it forces manufacturers to examine and improve the content of their product or risk being rejected by the consumer. Speaking as a former processed food marketer myself, we regarded that label as the holy grail and would often push to reformulate a product so that the label would read better. This is not just anecdotal; Fooducate recently posted about the fact that trans-fat consumption among Americans has decreased 75% due to new labelling and restrictions. As well, labelling systems like the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program here in Canada help guide consumers to make better decisions by demystifying some of that nutritional information with a simple check mark.

I know Prop 37 wasn’t perfect, and that not all GMO foods are created equal. However, there are legitimate concerns about GMO foods as they contain built-in pesticides and no long term studies about their safety exist. In fact, Canada and the US are among the few nations that allow GMO crops in packaged foods without labelling; 40 nations, including Japan, Australia and the whole European Union, have strict regulations or outright bans on GMO foods.

Prop 37 would have helped those who have concerns about GMO to avoid them, not to mention that it would have led food companies to avoid the use of GMO if they felt it was negatively impacting sales. It would have spread awareness and hopefully been adopted by other states and eventually in Canada.

Fooducate has a good post on what you can do to avoid GMO foods if you, too, are concerned. Even if the battle has not been won – at least the conversation has been started. 

photo credit: Sharon Drummond via photopin cc

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