Don’t Celebrate Just Yet

Today should be a national holiday. Why?

BECAUSE AFTER TODAY I WON’T HAVE TO LOOK AT ANOTHER POLITICAL AD.  At least until the next circus starts for 2016.

The prospect is enough to make me want to cry.  Or throw a party.

Granted, I live in Ohio, upon which the entire election hinges, or so they say.  It looks like it’s going to be a squeaker, too – most polls show Obama and Romney tied in a virtual dead-heat at 49% each.  (What about that other 2%?  Well, that would be me, since I voted early and for, well, someone else.)   I read somewhere that Ohioans have seen enough political ads over the last 18 months to run for 89 days straight, and I believe it.

I’ve also read that because of some whonky Ohio laws governing provisional voting we may not know who wins for over a week.  Essentially the law states that if a voter requests an early ballot but decides to vote on Election Day, they must cast a provisional ballot – which can’t be counted until November 17.   So if it really does come down to Ohio, and it’s as close as they say it’s going to be, it could be another 11 days before we know who will be sworn in next January.

I apologize in advance for my state of residence, and remind you I’m from Texas.

Another issue that’s been closely followed by the Real Food crowd is Proposition 37 in California, the initiative to have genetically modified foods labeled, since where California leads, the rest of the country often follows.  Things aren’t looking good for poor old Prop 37, for many reasons.  The biggest concern for most is that, if passed, the law will have no teeth – there are just too many exceptions.  For example: meat, dairy and eggs produced from animals fed GMOs won’t have to be labeled as such.  Food consumed at restaurants won’t have to be labeled.  You get the idea.

It’s going to be industrially processed “food” – sodas, chips, cookies, crackers, bottled sauces and dressings, boxed dinners, etc. – that are going to bear the brunt of the labeling law.  And since the vast majority of junk and pre-packaged foodstuffs contain corn and soy, the two most heavily genetically modified crops (more than 80% of corn and almost all soy produced in this country is GMO),  those are the things that will have to be labeled.

These products are the big money-makers for companies like Pepsico, Nestle and Cargill (and, by proxy, companies like Monsanto), and these are the companies most opposed to Prop 37.  They’ve pumped close to a billion dollars into the campaign to keep the law from being passed, citing it as confusing, unnecessary and expensive.  And it’s the “expensive” part of the argument – that it will cost the average family an additional $400 more per year – that is the most compelling; so much so that the NAACP has come out against the initiative, citing that if Prop 37 is passed, it will cause undue economic stress for low-income minorities.

You know, if someone had told me 20 years ago that my grocery bill would increase by $400 a year because of a silly little label, I’d have voted against it, too.  But it’s not the label that will cost the money.  The label is already there, telling us how many servings per package, how many calories, how much fat (including trans fats, which is a recent addition), how many grams of carbohydrates and protein, how much sugar, and all of the ingredients.  It’s not going to cost any more to add “genetically modified” in front of the corn and soy-based ingredients.  No, the real cost will be because the companies will have to reformulate their products using non-GMO ingredients.

Why would they do this, especially when they are so insistent that GMO foods are harmless?  Well, it might be because they know this not to be true, but it’s mostly because their marketing shows them a GMO label will be the kiss of death to their products.  No one will buy them.  And if the big food companies don’t use GMO ingredients, biotech companies like Monsanto will take a hit.  If you don’t buy processed foods containing GMO ingredients, the companies that manufacture them won’t buy the GMO crops.

I, personally, am watching the results of this particular issue with interest but no real hope, I’m sorry to say.  I don’t eat processed crap and make an effort to know exactly where my food comes from, so it wouldn’t affect me personally, anyway.  But I’d love love LOVE to see the mighty Monsanto brought to it’s knees, and the labeling of GMO ingredients in industrially processed foods would be a step towards accomplishing that. Too bad Prop 37 most likely won’t pass.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Celebrate Just Yet”

  1. I too would like to see Monsanto brought to their knees but I am not sure about prop 37 for many reasons. As you point out, it is at least weak and I fear even weaker than excluding prepared foods and indirect sources. What I worry about with labeling is that it will eventually be required on all foods including those we buy directly off the farm. Labeling for small farmers is exactly what Monsanto wants – less competition. Government regulations never work well in the long run.

    Frankly, it’s too late for corn and soy – they have become pervasive and even heirloom varieties have been squeezed out.

    You are right – the added cost is not adding three letters to an existing label. But if we assume for a moment that they are right and GMO is the only way to cost effectively feed the world, aren’t we already giving them a fair advantage in allowing them to put a price label on food with such an “unfair competitive advantage?”

    Why would they fight so hard if there really is no difference other than their lower cost?

    California, call BS on them and vote for this lame regulation anyhow!

  2. Most of our state propositions are written very poorly. They have a lot of loop holes, exceptions, and will most likely be tied up in the courts forever. That being said, everyone I know out here is voting FOR 37. Of course, I probably hang out with like minded people and we are probably not in the majority. Even if it doesn’t pass, I expect we’ll have a labeling law come forth in the next few years. Californians are VERY into health issues – and where our food comes from and how it got to us are important issues here.

  3. Flawed as it may be, I voted yes on 37 in hope it might make a difference on the difference in the issues. I enjoyed reading this and agree with your perspective!

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