Senator Barbara Boxer wrote the following encouraging voters to vote ‘Yes’ on Proposition 37, the labeling of GMO Foods
This Tuesday, Californians have a chance to vote for the basic principle that consumers have a right to know what is in the food they eat.
By supporting Proposition 37, we can join with the 61 countries throughout the world — from Great Britain to Japan to Australia — that already ensure that genetically engineered foods are properly labeled.
This is not a controversial notion to most consumers. In fact, polls suggest that roughly 90 percent of Americans say they want to know if the foods they feed their families have been genetically modified.
I have been a longtime supporter of efforts to improve food labels for consumers. Back in 1990, I fought to create the dolphin-safe tuna label so that people would know the fish they buy at the store was caught in a way that doesn’t harm or kill dolphins.
More than a decade ago, I introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act in the Senate, which was aimed at ensuring that all Americans had more information about the foods they eat. That’s why I am so pleased to join with the broad coalition of consumer groups, health advocates, nurses, doctors, restaurant owners, parents, faith leaders and food safety advocates who have rallied behind Prop. 37.
Opponents of this measure have argued that adding this new information to food labels would only confuse or alarm consumers. This argument is a familiar one — it has been raised by virtually every industry when they want to avoid giving consumers basics facts about the products our families are buying.
I have always believed we should trust consumers with more — not less — information. The old saying “information is power” is true. When we arm consumers with the facts, they can make decisions that are best for their families.
There is a reason we require food labels to provide certain facts to consumers. Diabetics need to know how much sugar a product contains. Hypertension sufferers need to know how to avoid consuming too much sodium. And those with food allergies need to know exactly what’s in their food to avoid a potentially dangerous reaction.
It is no surprise that more than 700 chefs and food professionals have endorsed Proposition 37. As these chefs wrote recently, “We can’t prepare the best food we know how when information about the ingredients we purchase is hidden from us with labels that are missing basic facts.”
Unfortunately, powerful interests in the food and chemical industries are spending tens of millions of dollars to try to defeat this initiative. Instead of opposing this common-sense measure, I would urge these companies to embrace better food labeling and make their case for their products directly to consumers.
California has always led the way for the nation when it comes to protecting consumers, public health and the environment — whether it’s better fuel economy for our cars or better labeling of the toxic chemicals in the products we buy.
With a strong vote for Proposition 37, Californians will once again remind the nation and the world that our democracy and our markets function best when we level with people and give them the basic information they need and deserve.