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Survey: Biologists Say 'No' on GMO Labels Proposition 37

Patch contacted eight biologists at California universities to get their opinion on Proposition 37. Seven of the eight urged a 'no' vote on the measure.

A group of eight biology professors from throughout the site asked to weigh in on the state proposition that would label genetically modified food overwhelmingly urged a 'no' vote for the measure.

Proposition 37, which is on the ballot on Tuesday, would make California the first state in the union to require that certain plant or animal products sold be labeled if its genetic material has been modified. The law would also make it illegal for food companies to label genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, as “natural.”

To get a scientific perspective on the issue, Patch reached out to more than 25 professors across the state with a background in biology or genetics to ask them how they would suggest Californians vote.  Of the eight professors who responded, seven told Patch they would urge a 'no' vote.

Neelima Sinha, a professor of plant biology at the University of California, Davis wrote that she was suggesting a 'no' vote because scientific research has not shown GMOs are unsafe to consume.

"GM food is no more safe or unsafe than anything else we eat," Sinha wrote in an email. "In fact most outbreaks of food poisoning have been from non-GM but poorly stored or treated food.  Much of what we consume is already GM – all cheeses, many drugs."

Alan McHughen, a plant biotechnologist and professor at the University of California, Riverside, suggested that the measure will impose more costs on low-income citizens.

"There’s no question Prop 37 will cost a lot of money, and only serve the purpose of satisfying the curiosity of a few," McHughen wrote. "Why should poor people pay more for food when they don’t care about the label?  It’s all about the majority paying more for food to satisfy the curiosity of the 1%"

However, De Anza College biologist Judy Cuff-Alvarado, the lone respondent to urge a 'yes' vote, said she does not buy the argument that the measure will raise the cost of food.

"Consumers need to know what they are eating and have informed choice," Cuff-Alvarado wrote. "I do not believe the argument that this is going to drive prices up dramatically.  Just look at the European model.  They're doing fine."

According to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office analysis, since GMOs entered the U.S. market in 1996, a vast majority of corn and soybean grown in the United States is genetically modified. According to some estimates, 40 percent to 70 percent of food found in grocery stores is genetically engineered.

A September USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found that more than 60 percent of Californians support Prop. 37.

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Bhatman November 06, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Gee.... I wonder if food processors advertise in newspapers? I wonder how much they rake in for all those coupons? Pass the fruit loops Hutch.
Lionel Emde November 06, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Why is it that 50 other countries already label these ingredients and the USA does not? Could it possibly have something to do with money? Perish the thought.
hutch November 06, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Ill just recycle this...Ok take off the tin foil hat Batman. Everything is a big conspiracy huh? Now Monsanto controls everything. Even me. Maybe they implanted something in you causing you to come up with lame arguments?
hutch November 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Lionel 50 other countries also ban homosexuality, the burka and free speech. The problem I see with listing GMF as an ingredient even though it isn't one is panic. People will see it as a government warning aNd stop buying products that fight disease, weather and pests. We grow more than all those counties combined. So our farmers and food supply could be at risk. It's not worth chancing system collapse over something that has never proven dangerous.
David Martinez November 06, 2012 at 04:40 PM
I talked to a biologist that studies and works with genetically modified organisms. She said GMO's have their good points and bad points, but if people want to know what they are eating than GMO's should be labled. She was not influeneced by Monsanto like most UC professors that have a morjoity of thier departments financed by Monsanto.

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