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Come November, California voters will have the chance to decide whether to require labels to appear on food made with genetically modified ingredients.
Back in November of last year, the Committee For The Right to Know teamed with others to submit the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, which states that the purpose of this measure is “create and enforce the fundamental right of the people of California to be fully informed about whether the food they purchase and eat is genetically engineered and not misbranded as natural so that they can choose for themselves whether to purchase and eat such foods.”
The food label initiative needed 504,760, signatures which is equivalent to five percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in the November 2012 gubernatorial election, for a valid petition to qualify for the ballot. According to the Associated Press, supporters collected more than the half million signatures needed for stronger labeling requirements.
According to a news release, Debra Bowen, California Secretary of State, on Monday certified the labeling of genetically engineered foods as the eighth measure to appear on the November 6, General Election ballot. The other seven measures on the ballot are a water bond measure, a political contribution measure, an auto insurance measure, a measure to repeal the State Senate District maps, a measure to repeal the death penalty, a measure to increase the crime penalties for human trafficking and a measure to revise the three strikes law.
If this passes come November, California will become the first state requiring labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms. This will required that by 2014, processed foods must be labeled to alert shoppers the product has ingredients from plants whose DNA has been altered with, which will include most raw or processed foods made from plants and animals with engineered genetic materials. Certified organic foods would be exempted from the labels as well as meat and dairy products where the animals are fed with genetically engineered grains.
Organic farmers believe they will benefit from informing consumers. “Consumers have a fundamental right to know what is in their food and make choices, so I think everyone should be working toward this,” said Albert Straus, president of the Straus Family Creamery, a popular organic dairy in Petaluma, reports the Associated Press.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that the genetically modified food shows no more health risk but is considering a petition to label genetically engineered food nationwide.