May 2012: The California GMO Labeling Initiative

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Our May meeting was all about GMOs and the California GMO Labeling Initiative.  We got off to a slightly delayed start due to a pick-up truck we encountered, wedged against the wall at the narrow turn-around by the clubhouse.  The poor driver couldn’t move her vehicle without serious damage, so when enough strong young men showed up for our meeting, they all lifted the truck around the corner, and she was off!  Luckily, even with a late start, the meeting finished in a timely manner, and all the presentations were done by 8:30!  

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to participate in our potluck dinner, just know that this dinner, like all those before it was fabulous!  I feel so satisfied after eating all that delicious nutrient-dense food, that the next day I always feel great!  So if you haven’t joined us yet, please consider participating.  You’ll be glad you did!  If you’r unsure of what to make, just check out our guidelines and cookbook suggestions on the Meeting Guidelines page.


Since the topic of the month was the GMO Ballot Initiative, we were fortunate to have local signature gathering leader Kim Clymer Kelley update us on the status of our state and local GMO politics.  But before her political discussion began, my daughter, 11-year old 6th grader, Olivia did an informative presentation about GMOs while demonstrating how to make a GMO-free smoothie.  Olivia admitted she was a little nervous addressing all those “nutrition-nut” adults, but she definitely engaged the group.  Go to the Meeting Handouts page to read her notes.


After everyone got a taste of Olivia’s smoothie, Kim Clymer Kelley began her talk.  Since the initiative successfully got on the ballot, thanks to the hard work of many volunteer signature gatherers, now we know that we will have the opportunity to vote Yes or No on GMO-labeling in California in the fall.  Specifically, Kim addressed the the forces against GMO labeling and how to respond to their expected propaganda!  


There are several common arguments against GMO labeling, which do not hold true when examined closely: 1) The taxpayers will have to pay to label GMOs; 2) We need GMOs to solve world hunger; 3) It’s not a fair initiative because it excludes organics; and 4) We’ve been manipulating our crops since time immemorial.  

The quick & dirty response in to each of these is: 1) All labeling expenses fall on the producers of the goods in question, not the taxpayers;  2) The facts show that yields from GMO crops are not as high as expected, and in some cases yields are so poor that many farmers who invested in GMO crops have gone bankrupt, some even to the point of suicide!  3) Organics are excluded because by definition organics already have to be GMO-free, don’t fit the description of the highly processed products being addressed in the initiative,  and don’t need additional regulations to hinder their already expensive production costs; and 4) Selective breeding within a species is not the same as unnaturally blending traits across completely unrelated species which have no natural way of sharing genetic information.  
Kim’s talk was inspiring to say the least.  Her greatest message came in the form of a warning:  The pro-GMO propaganda machine is ready for battle, and it’s our job to properly educate the community with the truth about GMOs.   If we win this ballot in November, we could very well reach the tipping point to get GMOs off the map, first in California and then ultimately in the whole USA!   For more information about GMOs and the California GMO-labeling Initiative, google “Jeffrey Smith,” our national leader in the Anti-GMO movement.
Thanks to all those who attended our May meeting.  Please join us for our next potluck dinner meeting in June when Elaina Luther of Culture Club 101 in Pasadena will be hosting our potluck dinner with a screening of “Farmaggedon.”

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