Europeans have been doing it since 1997. The Chinese saw fit to do it in 2004. And over a billion Indians will start doing it this January. Meanwhile about 95 percent of Americans want to do it at any given time — but can’t. And, as with many past liberation movements, the Americans who get to do it first may very well be in California.
Of course, I’m talking about labeling genetically modified foods (GMOs). This is a timely topic because a GMO labeling proposition called “The Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act” has officially qualified for the November ballot in California. While it’s true that the California legislature has killed several earlier attempts to pass a GMO labeling law (as also happened in Washington, Connecticut, and Vermont), this version will be put directly in front of voters. And as Richard Schiffman, writing for the U.K. Guardian, observes, that matters. His post reads:
What makes the referendum in California different is that, for the first time, voters and not politicians will be the ones to decide. And this has the food industry worried. Understandably so, since only one in four Americans is convinced that GMOs are “basically safe,” according to a survey conducted by the Mellman Group, and a big majority wants food containing GMOs to be labeled.
This is one of the few issues in America today that enjoys broad bipartisan support: 89 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats want genetically altered foods to be labeled, as they already are in 40 European nations, as well as Brazil and China.