The science of gene modification scares most people. In conjures up images of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Those fears and a few million dollars have conjured up a voter initiative on California’s November ballot that we, affectionately, refer to as Proposition 37.
But forget about Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego, the object of this initiative is not human gene modification. It’s not even about beef or lamb or chicken or the greatly increased breast size of the Butterball Turkey that will soon grace your Thanksgiving Table!
Nope, the object of this proposal is food crop seeds that have been genetically modified to improve crop yields, resist disease, automate harvesting and extend “shelf-life.” These are all techniques that directly benefit consumers with lower prices and less spoilage and waste.
The USDA and the FDA routinely test products derived from genetically modified seed products and have NO EVIDENCE that any of these foods are less nutritious or in any way unsafe for human consumption; and Proposition 37 acknowledges this fact. It does not ban genetically engineered seed products. No, it only establishes an expensive new labeling requirement and enforcement bureaucracy that will make California farmers less competitive in the global market place.
A quick peek at the folks who are supporting and those who are opposing Proposition 37 brings into sharp relief the real motives of the authors and financial backers of Proposition 37. It is, unsurprisingly enough, about money.
The organic farming industry has invested about $6 million in support of the proposition. Think of it as a somewhat misleading marketing campaign. Allied with the organic farmers is the California Nurses Association. Can you say SEIU? Yes the union that represents the majority of California state workers.
Arrayed against the proposition are California’s agricultural leadership, doctors, and every major news paper in the state!
The latest polling finds 44% of respondents favoring the proposition and 13% undecided. Since 50% of California voters have already voted, the high percentage of undecided voters probably dooms the proposition. But just in case you are not convinced, a no-vote is estimated to save every California family $400/yr.