California a bellwether state for prop 37

From Paula Crossfield on Civil Eats:

“So far, the food movement has excelled at building an alternative food economy and getting more and more people to vote with their forks. But in less than two weeks, eaters will head to the ballot box and vote with their votes. As Michael Pollan wrote recently in the New York Times, this election will be a referendum on whether or not the food movement has the political chops “capable of frightening politicians and propelling its concerns onto the national agenda.”

One state ballot measure in California–Prop 37–has the power to shift the national conversation around food. Even if you don’t live and vote in California, we are urging all Americans to support this measure. Here is what is at stake.

Flexing the food movement’s political muscle could start on the ballot in California, where voters will be able to weigh in on whether foods that contain genetically modified ingredients should have a label. The ballot measure could push forward changes in the food system like no other single effort by the food movement has to date because it exacts a new kind of pressure that politicians cannot so easily ignore. 1.2 million Americans already told our federal government that they want labeling through the Just Label It campaign earlier this year, and over 90 percent of people polled confirm that they want a label. When over 50 countries in the world—representing more than 40 percent of the world’s population–already have the right to know whether their food is genetically engineered, isn’t it time for Americans to be afforded that same right? Because our government isn’t listening, the measure had to be taken to the ballot box.

As the companies that sell genetically modified seeds know, if the majority of California voters select yes on Prop 37, the resulting label could empower the consumer to know what is in their food, and possibly select foods that do not contain GMOs–which is precisely what happened in Europe in 1997 when a similar measure was enacted. As a result, food producers may begin to preemptively reformulate their products to avoid a loss of sales. They wouldn’t do this just in California, of course, because it makes more economic sense to remove genetically modified ingredients from their products nationwide. These companies know from history–California was the first state to enforce stricter emissions standards, ban smoking in public places, and legalize medical marijuana–that the state is the harbinger of national change. It also has the eight largest economy in the world….”

Read more on Civil Eats.

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