Thinking About Proposition 105

Update 11/5/14: Colorado voters have overwhelmingly voted against Proposition 105 in 2014.  I did vote in favor of 105 only because I took my mom’s saying to heart.  I just don’t see myself ever siding with Monsanto.  A similar ballot measure in the state of Oregon has failed, but by a very slim margin.  Voters in a Hawaii county have put a moratorium on growing genetically engineered crops in their county.  Maybe Lincoln County Colorado will follow suit.  
Perhaps the $15 million that was poured into the Colorado Anti-105 side will mean less money for new GMOs and the executives at those big companies.
If you have come across this blogpost after the 2014 election, it is still worth a read.  I did a thorough job of exploring some of the issues that the idea of labeling GMOs has brought up.  I have not seen any of these issues brought up elsewhere.  

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been thinking a lot about Proposition 105 lately. In November 2014, the voters of Colorado will be voting on this ballot measure (Proposition 105) to label or not label GMOs.

GMOs are an issue close to my heart.  I am an organic farmer  a farmer who grows things naturally without the use of artificial fertilizers or pesticides (who is legally not allowed to use the o-word because I am not certified organic).  I am also a mother to five beautiful children. My job as their mother is to keep them healthy with a healthy diet.

The pro-GMO crowd insists that GMOs are just as safe as other crop varieties.  They also say that GMOs will lead to less pesticides, herbicides and toxins used in agricultural production and increased yields.  (I say “will lead to” since it hasn’t happened yet.) The anti-GMO crowd says that GMOs are not healthy for us humans or animals and that growing GMOs result in more toxins in the environments, which will be detrimental.

I am a sitting on the GMO fence.  I am not convinced either way.  However, by default, I am staunchly anti-GMO.  Maybe I’ll believe that there is no harm to the environment or to human health in, um, one thousand years after there has been much time to study them.  But until then, when we know the long term effects of GMOs, I am against GMOs.  Hybrids and other varieties have proven their safety of the course of millennia. GMO advocates have proven their safety for 20 years.  I’m going to side with Mother Nature here and not Monsanto.  I am also unsure that we should be messing with the genetic code.  Where do we draw the line between genetically engineering corn and eugenics and Natzism?  In Genesis, we (as a humankind) were given dominion, but where does dominion stop and playing god begin?  I don’t have the answer to those two questions, but I think that you should think about them as I have been thinking about them in the context of GMOs.

And, really, how can anyone tell you for certain that GMOs are safe?  I really don’t see how we can know this all in 20 years.  I do know that the occurrence of certain cancers have been in epidemic proportions.  So has obesity, autism, leaky guts, etc.  The prevalence of these maladies has also risen astronomically in the last 20 years.  Is it GMOs?  Is it vaccines or even the ‘other stuff’ in the vaccines?  Is it climate change or even just naturally occurring climate change that has been occurring for millennia as the Earth spins around the sun?  Is it pesticides? Was there some volcano somewhere that erupted and caused all this?  Is the entire increase in these occurrences only because we are better at diagnosing? The fact is that we have an increase in all of these maladies and we don’t know the reason for sure. GMOs are just as likely as any of these other reasons to have caused them.  I am not taking a chance with my beautiful children.  20 years of studies compared to millennia? I’m going with the crops that have proven themselves over millennia.  Take a risk on GMOs if you want with yourself.  That’s your prerogative.  It’s also my prerogative to skip the GMOs.

I wish that there wouldn’t be any more GMOs. Ever. I don’t think it’s worth the risk of finding out later that they caused harm to human health or to the environment.  I don’t think we should be messing with genetic codes.  But I am also against regulation.  Do you remember the story of the NewLeaf Potato? The NewLeaf Potato was a genetically engineered potato introduced in the 1990’s.  By 2001, they were no more because there was no market for them.  The market forced them to abandon the New Leaf Potato.  I wish that the market would kill other GMOs, too.  (Of course now they are talking about introducing a new kind of GMO potato, but for now potatoes are safe.)  Market killing is the ideal.

Since a food cannot legally be both organic and GMO, an increase in the organic market share means a decrease in the GMO market share.  The demand for organic groceries keeps rising. This gives me hope, hope that the market will resound against GMOs all by itself and without Proposition 105.  Whole Foods Market, for example, has promised GMO-transparency in all of its products in just a few more years.  Perhaps its competitors will follow suit.  Organizations like the Non-GMO Project keep growing and keep growing in the amount of groceries they certify.  Chipotle Restaurants have promised to phase out GMOs, too (except in their meats).  Cheerios eliminated GMOs due to public outrage.  There are all these little lights shining at what I hope is the end of the GMO tunnel.    We would need a lot more little lights, but I have hope.

Proposition 105 would only label certain GMO-containing foods.  Proposition 105 exempts meat, dairy and eggs that came from GMO-eating animals.  It exempts gum, alcohol and foods for immediate consumption.  These labels would only apply to food sold within the state of Colorado.

If JohnQPublic saw a “contains GMO” label on his favorite food products, would that impact his food choices?  Would Proposition 105, if passed, cause an increase in demand for non-GMO foods and therefore be another light shining at the end of the GMO tunnel?  It has the potential to be a very big light.  It can snowball into other lights and may kill GMOs, just like the lack of a market killed the NewLeaf Potato.

Will Proposition 105 negatively affect Coloradans? I am not a big-government-have-a-lot-of-laws type person. Referring to the NoOn105.com website, I’d like to offer a my unsolicited opinions on their reasons why farmers should oppose Proposition 105.
“Costly new bureaucratic requirements would impact farmers regardless of whether or not they grow GE crops.” They go on to say how this will create more paperwork and may require a farmer to have two sets of equipment.  I believe this to be false.  I do not know of a single farmer who grows some GMO corn and some conventional corn, for example. Farmers around here grow GMO corn and non-GMO everything else.  The wheat is wheat, for example, which is not GMO.  It will stay that way.  It is normal custom to clean equipment between harvesting a different crop. Also, growing GMO and copyrighted seed already impose many regulations.  I remember the time, for example, when we grew a copyrighted variety of wheat.  We legally had to sell it back to the elevator (and we did).  It was illegal for me to make a loaf of bread with my own wheat.  How ridiculous is that?  The extra rules for farmers that would be created by this law are no more ridiculous than the rules already in place.
“Proposition 105 would require Colorado food exports to be specially labeled – putting our farmers at a competitive disadvantage.”  This is a downright fallacy.  The proposed legislation requires labeling of food sold in Colorado.  It does not concern food produced in Colorado and sold elsewhere.  Also, if Proposition 105 passes here, other states will follow suit.  We won’t be the only ones.
“Proposition 105 would create a costly new bureaucracy.” Maybe so. Who is going to enforce all of these new rules?  If the cost is not to the consumer, it will be to the taxpayer.

I swiped this off the NoOn105 website.  It's all true.

I swiped this off the NoOn105 website. It’s all true. You’d be better off to go by my instructions on determining GMO. I hate GMOs and I worry that Proposition 105 will give consumers a false sense of security since they will not see a GMO label on these GMO products.

I worry that Proposition 105 will cause small farmers like me who occasionally direct market an unfair burden.  Right now I have to say, “I’m not allowed to say I’m organic because I’m not certified, but I follow organic standards.”  Will I have to say, “I’m not allowed to say I’m not GMO because I haven’t had my products tested, but I do not grow genetically engineered products.”?  If I ever got big enough to go to a farmer’s market, will my potential customers understand all this? And what about the Colorado Cottage Food Producers?

I also worry that Proposition 105 labels will become meaningless.  I worry that they will be “I-checked-the-box-so-now-you-can’t-sue-me” type labels. I see these type of labels all the time.  Some paraphrased examples are:
“Don’t let your babies play with this plastic bag.  They could suffocate.”
“May be made with soy, wheat or dairy.”
“May contain peanuts or be processed in a facility that processes peanuts or tree nuts.”
“This contains a substance known in the state of California to cause cancer.”
“Our farmers pledge not to give cows rBST hormones, but studies have shown that there’s no significant difference between rBST and non-rBST anyway.”
“Make sure you wear a gas mask and ventilate when you’re painting.”
“Open the window and evacuate the room if you break this lightbulb. Wear a hazmat suit when you clean it up.”
“If you’re pregnant or nursing, consult a doctor.” (on prenatal vitamins, too!)
“This will cure blah-blah, but this is not meant to cure, treat or diagnose any disease.”
“This coffee may be really hot and you may burn yourself.”
Again, remember these are my own versions and the actual content of these labels are different.  But I know you’ve seen them, too, and you know which ones I mean. We’ll have to add, “May contain GMO ingredients in the State of Colorado.” or some other version. These labels are really meaningless and we don’t need more meaningless ambiguous labels.

So all-in-all, I’m against Proposition 105, except for one reason…

My mom. My mom has a lot of wise little sayings.  One of her wisest little sayings is

“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”

I am in favor of Proposition 105 only because Monsanto and the like are against it. I can’t see myself siding with Monsanto. These are the same people who made Agent Orange. These are the same people who make all these crazy GMOs and the chemicals for them. Monsanto is the reason that I cannot even obtain non-GMO corn seed in my area. Monsanto sees Proposition 105 as a threat, which is why they have poured all this money into campaigning against it. A threat to Monsanto is my friend. In the end, I’m not sure how I’ll vote.

There is a lot that I’ve thought about in regards to Proposition 105. Some of these thoughts that I’ve shared above I haven’t seen on any for or against article or website.  Take these points into consideration, too, when making your decision.  Decide well, Colorado. I hope you will make the right decision, whatever that will be.  I sure don’t know what it is.


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