The Fight to Require Labeling of GM Foods: Prop 37 Puts Political Fuel Behind the American Food Movement

| 10/12/2012 11:23:02 AM

Michael Pollen Vote For The Dinner PartyDon’t miss Michael Pollan’s New York Times editorial Vote for the Dinner Party about the fight in California to require labeling of GM foods. As he so often does, Pollan lays out all the issues better than anyone. He explains how the mutual loss of confidence between the industrial food chain and consumers is responsible for the no-win situation we are struggling with now. Consumer trust in Big Food dwindles as the Food and Drug Administration continues to reject the widespread plea for the labeling of genetically modified foods, while the food industry distrusts consumers to invest in food products after they are labeled as genetically modified.

Pollan recognizes the emergence of a Food Movement, where consumers are essentially voting with their food dollars in favor of GMO-free goods, opting to purchase food from farmers markets rather than supermarkets. Although the Food Movement has been influential in revitalizing local farming and setting high standards for the food industry, this form of soft politics will eventually reach the height of its potential. If true reform in our food industry is to be enacted, a higher level of political intensity is needed. Pollan explains why California’s Proposition 37, or as he calls it, another one of the state’s “notorious initiative” processes, may serve as a successful catalyst for changing the politics of food. Trust me: If you care about the Real Food movement, it’s worth clicking in to the Times to read the entire article.  

From Vote for the Dinner Party:

Americans have been eating genetically engineered food for 18 years, and as supporters of the technology are quick to point out, we don’t seem to be dropping like flies. But they miss the point. The fight over labeling G.M. food is not foremost about food safety or environmental harm, legitimate though these questions are. The fight is about the power of Big Food. Monsanto has become the symbol of everything people dislike about industrial agriculture: corporate control of the regulatory process; lack of transparency (for consumers) and lack of choice (for farmers); an intensifying rain of pesticides on ever-expanding monocultures; and the monopolization of seeds, which is to say, of the genetic resources on which all of humanity depends. 

These are precisely the issues that have given rise to the so-called food movement. Yet that movement has so far had more success in building an alternative food chain than it has in winning substantive changes from Big Food or Washington. In the last couple of decades, a new economy of farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture (also known as farm shares) and sustainable farming has changed the way millions of Americans eat and think about food. From this perspective, the food movement is an economic and a social movement, and as such has made important gains. People by the millions have begun, as the slogan goes, to vote with their forks in favor of more sustainably and humanely produced food, and against agribusiness. But does that kind of vote constitute a genuine politics? Yes and no. 

It’s easy to dismiss voting with your fork as merely a lifestyle choice, and an elite one at that. Yet there is a hopeful kind of soft politics at work here, as an afternoon at any of America’s 7,800-plus farmers’ markets will attest. Money-for-food is not the only transaction going on at the farmers’ markets; indeed, it may be the least of it. Neighbors are talking to neighbors. Consumers meet producers. (Confirming the obvious, one social scientist found that people have 10 times as many conversations at the farmers’ market as they do at the supermarket.) City meets country. Kids discover what food is. Activists circulate petitions. The farmers’ market has become the country’s liveliest new public square, an outlet for our communitarian impulses and a means of escaping, or at least complicating, the narrow role that capitalism usually assigns to us as “consumers.” At the farmers’ market, we are consumers, yes, but at the same time also citizens, neighbors, parents and cooks. In voting with our food dollars, we enlarge our sense of our “interests” from the usual concern with a good value to, well, a concern with values. 

7/15/2013 9:42:13 PM

Lets not miss the point, we have a right to know what we are buying, what is in our food. We also have the right to not have speciies of food wiped out by know it alls bumbbleing around with gene coding. Patients on food? Your gabage cross pollenates into the rest of the food supply, then you own it, give me a break, it is sinnister! they should be sued for putting any of it in our food without out knowledge and permission! Hold a corparations accountable, for everything they do, creating a soverien enity the is protected from the law and served by it! BULL

                  Thanx Ric C

Ps if your rebut is my spelling, i geuss that says it all, you missed the points completely!

10/29/2012 1:48:38 AM

I'm more worried about the short term effect of using ANY food stuffs as vehicle fuels in a period of worldwide droughts and low grain harvests. Being worried about the environment or GMOs will be of minor interest to starving people next year in places without grain!

Renee Colaizzi
10/22/2012 5:21:13 PM

Dr. Oz suprising just had a half a show about Prop 37 including Jeffrey Smith as a guest. However, he also had two very strange guests, one a so called animal expert and another expert that blatantly believe with no proof what so ever that GMOs are safe. Jeffrey Smith and a guest from Prop 37 had to leave the stage before the other guests could come out. Why is that? I have no doubt his GMO supporters were paid for their opinions and/or have stock in Monsanto. They looked as crazy as they sounded. Dr. Oz did reveal his poll if people would choose non GMO over GMO if labeled and around 90% said they would buy nonGMO foods. Most of our manufacters of GMOs already label GMOs for other countries before they ship overseas, so you cannot tell me cost is a factor. Through grass roots campaigns, GMOs have finally been brought to a large numer of people that demand we at least have labeling when there is absolutely no independent safety research on GMOs in this country at all. Other countries have independent research that is undeniably horriific. For the people in this country to ignore this new danger to our food source is to make us all human guinea pigs as more and more foods are genetically modified. I have been GMO free for a good part of my adult life minus my twenties. I am 47 now and have excellent health, energy, skin, blood pressure, labwork, and a very healthy heart. I pass for my 20s. I am can say without a doubt eating GMO free makes you and keeps you healthy with no need of pharmaceuticals prescribed or OTC. People may laugh at "you are what you eat" but I am what I eat! However, my coworkes, peers, friends, etc don' t believe in eating organic or GMO free yet they are constantly complaining of their bad health, doctor appts, medications, copays, medical costs, and their chronic diseases. Therefore they are most definately what they eat. Sad to see and sad to say.

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