Voters

Efforts to make California the first state to require mandatory labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in the state are underway with growing support from organizations including the Organic Consumers Association and the Right2Know March.

Advocates working throughout the state will collect signatures in order to place the initiative on the 2012 electoral ballot, which could set a precedent for other states across the country to require labeling of all genetically modified ingredients on food products. The groups must collect 500,000 signatures in order for the initiative to make it onto the ballot next year.

The Right2Know March, taking place this October, will lead thousands of concerned citizens on a 313-mile march from New York to Washington D.C. to urge for stricter government regulations on GMOs and clear labeling—and will be drawing attention to the opposite coast in hopes of boosting signature support for the California ballot initiative.

Genetically modified foods, mainly corn, soy, canola and cotton, have reached virtual market saturation since the mid 1990s when Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops totaled around 4 million acres. Today it’s nearly half a billion acres, with the majority being grown on U.S. soil, where the deregulation process is swift, allowing for 93 percent of soy, 86 percent of corn and 93 percent of cotton and canola planted in the U.S. in 2010 to be genetically engineered.

According to the OCA, polls indicate the measure has enough support to get on the ballot and even to be voted in favor for, provided the influential reach of biotech corporations such as Monsanto aren’t able to sway voters away from demanding truth in labeling.

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image: Phil Roeder