If you live in California, you’ve most likely been exposed to ads persuading you to vote no on Prop 37 because it’s a) bad for farmers and b) will end up costing you more at the grocery store. Acclaimed blogger Jessica Gottlieb who has been featured on everything from ABC News to Fox News to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and every network in between joined me recently to debunk myths you’ve heard about Prop 37, and discuss why you should vote yes on the Proposition.
Candace Rose: Much of the public seems to be in the dark about genetically modified food. Can you give us a rundown on what genetically modified food is?
Jessica Gottlieb: “Genetically modified foods are different than hybrids. GMO’s are not hybrids, they are two totally different things. A hybrid occurs in nature, a GMO occurs in a laboratory. What happens is that GMO foods are created in a laboratory where the RNA of the food is changed. For example, I think the first and largest crop is soybeans. There’s a chemical called Roundup (that’s used as a pesticide) and so when the farmers would spray Roundup on the soybean crops, what they did was they used Roundup almost as a virus and inserted that into the soybean. The soybeans that are sold (that are not organic) in the U.S. and worldwide are going to be these GMO soybeans and they contain a little bit of Roundup in them so that the farmers can then spray massive amounts of Roundup onto the plants and the soil without killing the soybeans.
There is no research that GMO’s are safe. There is limited research about it in any fashion because it’s really new. You can’t have a long term study because you don’t have a long term product here. Here’s another thing too – thinking that this is just about an ear of corn is just disingenuous and it’s also not about the edamame on your plate. The cattle that you’re eating is corn-finished or corn-fed. It went from one crop and now it’s in nine crops. We have GMO salmon which is on the horizon, which I think will grow two or three times faster.”
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about California’s Prop 37?
Jessica Gottlieb: “Prop 37 is a proposition to label GMO’s. When I look at the back of any packaged food it tells me how many calories, sodium, fat content. If this passes it would say ‘yes, it contains GMO’s’, so that you, the American consumer can decide ‘yes or no, I do not want to put this into my body’.
Currently the GMO foods are corn, soybean, crook neck squash, Hawaiian papaya, sugar beets. Currently to avoid eating a GMO food you would need to be eating organic. And that won’t completely eliminate it because it’s not like there’s a moat and a wall between farms. You can have an organic farm that is still a GMO farm or a conventional farm. There’s still some overlap. But most of the time it’s not GMO if you are eating organic.
This would just eliminate the need to do that. Consumers would just get one more choice, and that’s really what it’s about – just having some information so that you can make a decision for yourself. This isn’t going to affect their business. It would just have that line under it.”
I know it’s a California proposition, but California as we all know leads the way on these ballot initiatives. When we do stuff other people do stuff.”
Candace Rose: Why should the public be concerned?
Jessica Gottlieb: “Some people aren’t (concerned), and those people should still be concerned because it’s a very American thing to know what’s on our plate. 50 countries require this labeling, including China. We are way behind on the curve here. This is not going to stop farmers. They’re going to try and tell you this is going to stop farmers from producing their foods. They’re going to tell you this is going to increase the cost of your food. That is absolutely not true. It’s simply for you to know and decide if that’s what you want to put in your body.”
Candace Rose: According to a poll conducted by ABC News, the majority (of those polled) are for having mandatory labels placed on genetically modified food. What’s it going to take to get these people to the polls?
Jessica Gotlieb: “What’s interesting about this Prop 37 is it got on the ballot because a million people signed to get it on the ballot. We have a very interesting ballot process here where you can collect signatures and get stuff on the ballot unlike some other states. So this was definitely a proposition brought about by the people and folks were very passionate about. If we can just share or reignite their passion then that can go a long way.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional information you’d like to share?
Jessica Gottlieb: “I would definitely like to push people toward LabelGMOs.org. You can volunteer here with the Label GMO’s here. You can donate to your local Farmer’s Market, and remind people that they really need to vote on this.”
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