Farmer Debunks Corporate Propaganda Against Proposed Law to Label Genetically Modified Food
Continued from previous page
Propaganda statement #2:
To avoid labeling a product as non-GMO will require farmers, food processors, and food distributors to document that ingredients are not produced through biotechnology.
This massive new paperwork and record keeping requirement – on tens of thousands of crops and food products – will add significant cost and bureaucracy for farmers and food producers.
Exaggeration upon exaggeration. The regulation and record-keeping process is not that difficult and there are not tens of thousands of GE crops grown in California. When our farm first converted to organic production we were leery of the regulations and the requirements for record-keeping and documentation for organic certification, so we understand the trepidation farmers have over regulations and record-keeping. Now, however, it is a regular part of our routine. Our staff regularly documents our growing and sales practices on computers, which makes it easy to track and segregate inputs and products if necessary.
While the organic regulations are strict, their existence provides the consumer and the farmers with a guarantee that a third-party inspector is reviewing the farmer’s records and growing and sales practices, and are rooting out mistakes or any instances of deliberate cheating. Excellent and easy-to-use record-keeping computer programs are available for small, medium, and large farms. Given our experience, we believe that creating an accurate paper trail for organic, GMO-free, or naturally grown products should not be seen as daunting by farmers or be used as a reason to not label GMO products. And let’s not forget – in almost 50 other countries, this process is required – and executed without undue burden on farmers.
As for the issue of “tens of thousands” of GMO crops in California, that’s simply not true. Currently, genetically engineered cotton, corn, sugar beets, soy, a bit of canola, and experimental alfalfa are grown commercially in California. These same crops are the only ones grown on large acreages in the U.S. So there are not thousands of GMO crops that are grown anyplace in the U.S. or the rest of the world. There are, however, tens of thousands of products that have genetically modified ingredients. About 75% of our processed food has GMO ingredients—and processed food accounts for 80% of the food U.S. consumers eat. That should give consumers pause.
Propaganda statement #3:
This provision (Proposition 37) would significantly impact farmers’ ability to market their foods as natural, even if there are no GE ingredients. So, for example, under the measure a raw almond could be marketed as “natural” but the same almond that has been salted and canned could not. Apples could be labeled “naturally grown,” but applesauce made from the same apples could not be advertised as “natural applesauce” simply because the apples were cooked.
If almonds are plunged into a salt bath, no matter how you look at it, it’s not natural. When do almonds ever do that naturally? When almonds have tamari or salt or garlic added they are not natural. When natural apples are made into applesauce, they are cooked, and almost all the non-organic applesauce producers add preservatives. Is this applesauce natural? This begs the question as to what is “natural.”
Since there are no government or industry guidelines or regulations governing what is or is not “natural,” food processors have stamped the word “natural” on everything from corn flakes to processed meats to shampoo. Biotech companies, cosmetic companies, and food processors all want to keep up the illusion that processed foods are “natural” and thus safer than non-natural products. Why? Because they can charge consumers more for anything with the word “natural” on it. Sales of “natural” foods have reached about $50 billion a year, compared with $32 billion in sales of certified organics.