Rainbow endorses Prop. 37

[graphic via The Cornicopia Institute]

We don’t do that much politicking here (there’s plenty of that on the internet already), but it is a big election year, so expect some issues to pop up as we find them relevant or particularly pressing.

Local grocery cooperative, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, is officially endorsing California’s Proposition 37, the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative. This endorsement is not shocking, since 2000 Rainbow has officially opposed the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs):

“We will ban these foods from any private label product we carry, and support efforts to label and/or ban such foods until a time when they can be proved safe for consumption and the environment.”

Christa Irwin, of Rainbow’s Ecology Committee says of Prop. 37:

“People want to know what they’re eating. Just because a product says ‘natural’ does not mean that it hasn’t come from a GMO crop or possibly processed with or contaminated by one. This fight is imperative and hopefully will change labeling on a national level.”

You have to wonder why the food companies would pay so much money to stop us from knowing how they’re making our food and what they put into it. Since the above graphic was made the numbers on the red side have continued to go up. Fog City Journal has an informative write up on the matter. I just don’t trust companies like Monsanto and Phillip Morris, excuse me, Altria, to hold our health as their top priority. Anyone remember StarLink? If it costs less to do recalls or payout lawsuits…

I think the consumers have a right to know. If the companies believe that GMOs are safe then don’t hide them, convince us. It’s a bummer though, I like a lot of the products in the left column. I think Prop 37 is just the first step in getting to a better place with the development and use of GMOs. Much more testing should to be done, especially focusing on long term effects. Unfortunately there seems to be very little push back on the chemical/food companies making them, and much of the changes they are making are likely irreversible. If Prop. 37 passes consumers will be able to weigh in on the matter with their wallets, which is what the Big Ag companies are afraid of.

44 Responses to “Rainbow endorses Prop. 37”

  1. george says:

    this is stupid and has nothing to do with the good of consumers.

    GMOs could represent a health risk, but that is very unlikely. According to WHO: “no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

    It is obvious that this is a campaign to win consumer money on behalf of organics, and the big companies are fighting back just as hard.

    • Ariel Dovas says:

      Says “george” who has never commented on this blog before.

      • george says:

        i have occasionally and can reply with links to old comments?

        both sides on this are stupid and I am abstaining because i am indifferent to the result and ballot measures shouldn’t be used by multimillion dollar corporations to influence consumers, which is what both sides are doing.

        • Ariel Dovas says:

          I find it hard to understand how this has nothing to do with the good of consumers. As someone who has nothing to gain financially either way, I would much rather have every food company pressured to tell us how they make the food that they sell, so that we can make decisions based on what’s important to us. I personally am committed to continuing to educate myself on current food issues and concerns related to health, sourcing, environmental impact, etc. But we consumers can only do so much. The companies that are profiting from the new technologies they use are spending a lot of money to convince us that everything they do is safe and for our benefit, but I just don’t trust their motives and there isn’t enough accountability from government agencies or anyone else.

          • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

            Hear, Hear. Well said, Ariel.

          • george says:

            What I am saying is that this should not be a ballot measure, so I cannot support it. I would bet that a bunch of corporate folks/lawyers from the right side of infographic just decided that they could make more money if this measure passes and started a sketchy information campaign. They know that this is a popular measure that is probably going to pass so they just went for it, because they mostly care about their bank accounts not consumers.

            Why should any corporate interest be allowed to start measures and disinformation campaigns? I trust the FDA much more.

          • Chris says:

            Lol, George, you do know that anyone who’s anyone at the FDA was once an executive for one of the companies on the left side. The FDA is, in general, a corporate shill.

          • delicate fleur says:

            “anyone who’s anyone at the FDA was once an executive for one of the companies on the left side. The FDA is, in general, a corporate shill.” This is simply untrue, as 5 minutes’ worth of googling can tell you. Most of the top brass at the FDA are lifetime public-health bureaucrats. There _have_ been a number of conflict of interest issues with people currently or previously on the payroll at various companies serving on FDA _advisory committees_. This is a dilemma faced by all government agencies that regulate corporate interests: balancing fairness with the need to have expertise that can only come from working in the field. Sometimes the FDA has gotten it right, and sometimes they haven’t, but writing off the FDA altogether is just lazy and dumb. And profitable for all those companies selling RNA pills.

          • Chris says:

            You really couldn’t find anything? Must be shutty at the internet, then. Former Monsanto employees currently hold positions in US government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Supreme Court. These include:

            Michael A. Friedman, MD, was Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Medical and Public Policy for Pharmacia, and later served as an FDA deputy commissioner.

            Linda J. Fisher was an assistant administrator at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before she was a vice president at Monsanto from 1995 to 2000. In 2001, Fisher became the deputy administrator of the EPA.

            Michael R. Taylor was an assistant to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner before he left to work for a law firm, one client of which was Monsanto. Taylor then became deputy commissioner of the FDA from 1991 to 1994, during which time the FDA approved rBST. Anti-GM activists accused him of conflict of interest but a Federal investigation cleared him. Taylor was later re-appointed to the FDA in August 2009 by President Barack Obama.

            United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto in the 1970s. Thomas wrote the majority opinion in the 2001 Supreme Court decision J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. which found that “newly developed plant breeds are patentable under the general utility patent laws of the United States.”

            There are even more government links with Monsanto here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/news.cfm Click on Monsanto’s government ties on the right.

            We haven’t even explored Pepsico or ConAgra.

          • delicate fleur says:

            So you defend your statement “anyone who’s anyone at the FDA was once an executive for one of the companies on the left side. The FDA is, in general, a corporate shill” by listing ONE person who now works at the FDA who formerly worked for not Monsanto, but a law firm that represented Monsanto. Despite the fact that I am “shutty at the internet” it didn’t take too long to find out that Michael Friedman no longer works for the FDA, Linda Fisher no longer works for the EPA (and never worked at the FDA), and obviously Clarence Thomas never worked there. Obviously there are people at the FDA who have formerly worked in the food and pharmaceutical industries, but that is very different from saying that it is entirely run by industry shills and therefore completely lacking in credibility.

      • thatsthejoke says:

        way to not address any of the points he’s made.

      • Travis says:

        Are you serious? Ariel, you’ve always seemed like a stand-up guy, but arguing with “You’ve never posted on this blog before!” is bullshit.

        • Ariel Dovas says:

          Yeah, I was serious, “this is stupid and has nothing to do with the good of consumers.” seemed like something I wasn’t ready to debate. And according to his ISP address he had just shown up here. Once he seemed like more than yet another anonymous troll, just negating anything any of us posters say, I engaged with him. Is that really bullshit? I’ve done my best to keep the conversation alive with the commenters who seem like they actually care about the issue, on either side. Not sure what you’re upset about.

    • Lo says:

      Think of the bees!

  2. Kyle says:

    Labeling and giving consumers the right to decide how to spend their money is a worthy cause, and I intend to vote for prop 37. However, I am concerned that GMO foods are becoming demonized (partly due to their association with evil companies like Monsanto), when they really might represent a piece of the solution to our food problems. All crops we grow have undergone genetic engineering by humans over thousands of years as we have selected for strains that have traits we desire. This selection changes the genome of crop plants to the same end state as more targeted genetic engineering efforts. So really, none of the food we eat is “natural” anyways. And what’s so great about being natural? It’s not like nature tries to evolve plants to be healthy and safe for us to eat.

    And I don’t think I trust the scientific judgement of an organization like Rainbow that has decided it is ok to swindle misinformed consumers by selling totally useless (and expensive) supplements such as DNA and RNA tablets in their store.

    • delicate fleur says:

      Totally agree on Rainbow as snake-oil salesman. And of course all the companies on the right side of the poster stand to directly profit from Prop. 37. I am a college biology professor and I teach about GMOs in many of my classes. Part of the problem is that public fear and suspicion has created a situation in this country where GM seeds are pretty much only grown by one company (everyone’s favorite, Monsanto!) The New Yorker did a fantastic article on GM foods in 2000 that you can download here for free from the author’s website: http://www.michaelspecter.com/wp-content/uploads/pharmageddon.pdf It’s a little outdated now (Monsanto spun off from Pharmacia soon after it was published to avoid tainting its parent company’s name) but it does a good job of delineating the basic conflicts and challenges inherent to this technology. My favorite quote in the article is this one from University of Sussex (England) professor Michael Lipton: “I always say that electricity is a fantastic invention…but if the first two products had been the electric chair and the cattle prod, I doubt that most consumers would have seen the point.”

    • Ariel Dovas says:

      I’m not in the field of biology, but I’m pretty certain that comparing the way that food is currently genetically engineered to selective breeding is very problematic. The first of what we refer to as GMOs was produced, I believe, sometime in the 1980′s.

      • delicate fleur says:

        The question of whether GM technology is “the same” as traditional genetic modification through crossbreeding is one I love to ask students on exams! There is no right or wrong answer…I grade my students on how well they support their argument and not on their opinion. Most molecular biologists do think it is fundamentally the same, just faster.

  3. What the big donators on the left side of that chart are afraid of is the paranoia and bigotry of the mob, stirred up by the cranks. It’s the “Frankenstein effect” — you know, the monster movie rant about ‘man tampering with things he was not meant to, interfering with the prerogative of GOD’! It’s perfectly reasonable that they should put some serious bucks into fighting that kind of irrational fear-mongering.

    Labeling food accurately is laudable, but it should be handled by the FDA, not at this level.

  4. Jon says:

    Labeling would be really nice, although how do they distinguish between the different GMO’s available? Would a package simply say it has GMO’s, but not outline which ones? Genetically modified food is absolutely critical in today’s day and age (organic food by itself simply does not yield enough to feed the world), but more transparency as to what’s in your food would be most welcomed.

  5. Chris says:

    1. Food labeling will result in basically anything with high fructose corn syrup (and a host of other corn substrates) to be labeled as GMO food. It’s in tons of shit and most of it is GMO corn, which is why the big dudes don’t want the labeling. While GMOs aren’t proven to be harmful, high fructose corn syrup definitely is and this labeling will serve as a good shorthand for that shit.
    2. If labeling passes it will force big agra to spend more money proving why GMOs are safe. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
    3. It will likely get more people to buy local. This is a good thing and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
    4. There are Props that are just as important, if not more so than 37 of November’s ballot and Mission Mission shouldn’t be avoiding them. When you avoid them and spend all the blog space on consumer and conservative messages you don’t opt out of politics, but instead reinforce the status quo. You’re already political, so you might as be political in a positive manner.

    • Ariel Dovas says:

      1. That’s a straw man that is used by opponents to Prop. 37, since it’s in so many things people will be afraid of so many things. That’s why they rushed to get them into so many things, we should be having this debate BEFORE they put it into everything.

      2. Sure

      3. Sure

      4. There are a lot of good resources out there to learn more about the election. The internet is full of them. We assume that this is not people’s only source of information on everything. It certainly should not be. I’m not sure how having this debate about a statewide proposition is not being political in a positive manner. We don’t have an imperative to cover everything ever. Time and again you feel like you need to tell us about what we don’t cover. That’s a losing battle on my part. But I have to wonder what the point is. In any case, how is this a conservative message? As far as it being a consumer message, it’s not like I’m reviewing the new iPhone, the “consumers” of food are not elective consumers – everyone eats.

      • Chris says:

        What you do cover is conservative – like kicking poor people in RVs off of the street, complaining about the homeless, etc. When that’s all you talk about in the way that you talk about it (when was the last time this blog covered any of what was being done to help the homeless in SF or its shortfalls?), the blog is conservative no matter how you feel about your personal politics. MissionMission is basically fancy food, fashion, shows you should go to, crime reports and homeless people bothering us reports. This is a conservative way to highlight the Mission.

        • Ariel Dovas says:

          I’m not going to try to convince you right now any more than I already have, but I disagree. And I disagree with your use of “you”. And I continue to be baffled by your participation in this conversation and how you think you’re helping. But I don’t need you to try to explain it to me again, you have, and it makes no sense to me. We look at the same thing and see two different things. Such is life. I’m going to go enjoy the sun. Hopefully you will do the same.

          • Chris says:

            Are you seriously going to say that Mission Mission isn’t “fancy food, fashion, shows you should go to, crime reports and homeless people bothering us reports?”

            If not – what is it?

            If so – why isn’t it problematic?

        • thanks says:

          that little bubble you live in must be nice Chris, room for one more in there?

        • Mark says:

          ^^ this

  6. Rich says:

    Rainbow has also for a long time heartily opposed carrying any products from Israel. For the basic human rights reasons that do not stop them from carrying products from China. Jew haters. Obviously.

    • Ariel Dovas says:

      I’m jewish, but not Israeli. I shop at Rainbow. Obviously.

    • thanks says:

      one of the dark secrets of the progressive left is that they have just as many bigots as the right. everyone likes to hate someone, hating Jews has never gone out of fashion.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        Pff. Not supporting Israel does not equate to hating jewish people. Claiming otherwise is deeply disingenuous at BEST.

      • thanks says:

        i’m sorry ‘herr doktor deth’ please break it down for us why the human rights violations and military actions in Israel are worth boycotting but those occurring in China are not.

        • MrEricSir says:

          Why don’t you just ask Rainbow? We’ve dealt with enough of your bullshit here already.

          • Cranky Monkey says:

            Actually, in this one case, he has am extremely pertinent question that any habitual Rainbow customer might be well-advised to consider.

          • thanks says:

            sorry, is it verboden for me to ask a question here?

        • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

          What the hell are you talking about, thanks? I’m not here to defend china, or even defend Rainbow. I’m just here to call you a mendacious dirtbag for trying to equate objecting to the policies of the Israeli state (or, for that matter, objecting to Zionism at all) and objecting to Jewish people in general. Cuz that’s some high-octane bullshit you’re slingin’ right there, son.

    • Mark says:

      This is actually completely false. There are dozens of Israeli products at Rainbow. They have never boycotted those products you’re just recycling misinformation.

  7. Matthew says:

    I’m not sure how I’m going to vote on Prop 31 and 35. I need to do more research.

  8. lucy says:

    I just moved to California and when I first heard of this bill I thought “great, an opportunity to improve science literacy and dispel a lot of nonsensical fears about genetic engineering”. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to have happened at all. Probably it’s our (biologists) faults for not finding a way to explain the concept sufficiently clearly, but surely journalists, who know they don’t have the technical or medical expertise to make these judgements, can share some blame when they go ahead and write things like “Much more testing should to be done, especially focusing on long term effects” anyway.

    Fortunately there are some folk trying to step in. A really great organisation aiming to improve science literacy published this guide to equip the general public to better deal with sensational reporting on GM: http://www.senseaboutscience.org/resources.php/9/making-sense-of-gm

    If this bill does pass at least the big agricultural companies might have a financial incentive to find a way to explain GM to the general public. Then all the people who voted against it will have their fears dispelled and everything will be fine anyway.