another 2 cents on Prop 37 and how to save the small producer

Hello, I want to share my response to the the Prop 37 info and email. Just some “food for thought”  on why I choose to vote NO on 37 and save the small family farmer.  I have taken just one paragraph from Steve’s email and addressed it. Please research and read carefully for yourself. The ripples from this one could have extremely far reaching consequences. Sadly, this proposition is only about politics and extremism. It is not about the farmer and family producer. It would have been better if we had a label that said … “GMO Free” put on the ballot by farmers and small family producers allowing the public to freely choose.
4-H mom

old animal science major.

Small producer

From the email:
Steve “The cost of changing a label is exceedingly small, especially if they do what they do with nuts and just say “may contain GE ingredients” (the measure actually allows this, FYI).”

–>99% of all labeling would have to be changed for the “California” label.  Labeling does cost money.. new approved designs inspected for “Genetically Engineered” on all labeling. New packaging and boxing. Palletizing. It has to be labeled.  Zero Tolerance!.  New box designs, specific bills of lading, inspection,  trucks with product marked specific for California markets, plainly marked “GE” foods.
Steve “Furthermore, if the result was that shoppers actually stopped buying it this stuff on a wide scale, then the price of anything containing GE food would actually drop!”

–> California’s “all natural” market (which the term will be outlawed in this bill) currently supplies 40% of all demand nationwide, which makes up .08% of all foods consumed in the USA. This could not be true. The populations are too great for the quantity produced. It takes years of planning for crop production. Could you really just stop?  There is not enough GMO free product currently produced for consumption, so given supply and demand for NON gmo.. prices would skyrocket beyond accessibility.

 Imagine with me for a moment…the average grocery store now boasts 50,000 items, most of which would have to be relabeled.. There is NO cool off time for this proposition.. Ok one day.. out the next.. what a huge loss in food it will be.. HUGE. Who pays?

Steve “Thus, anyone that didn’t care, or couldn’t afford the GE free food, would actually save money. Not true.

Steve “Not only are some trying to confuse labeling with a ban (which arguably could cause prices to rise while farmers make the transition back), but they are counting on people not to think through the laws of supply and demand.”

–> Supply and demand. Where would farmers get this seed to “transition back” [to or forward]? Someone has to have already  harvested the seeds..

The population of the USA primarily shops at a grocery store. I do not understand how passing this could “save” money. Analysts agree this proposition will cost money, It has to.  Farmers, Trucking companies, Inspectors, Labeling, Testing.. it all costs! Who will pay for it.

 Currently there is NOT enough GMO seed produced and stockpiled on the planet, much less in any state or county that can take the place of the seeds that are currently stockpiled in the US.
Food feed and seed corn for Sept to Nov 2011- 14,766 million bushels produced.  ( Just Corn, just 60 days)

Californians will soon vote on Proposition 37, mandating that genetically modified (GM) food is labeled. Supporters argue that mandatory labeling responds to consumers’ rights, offers greater choice, and provides more information on food content. But the specifics of Prop 37 will result in a much different outcome. Food category choice will decrease and the added labeling information will be imprecise. Prop 37 will introduce a double standard for accidental GM purity in organic versus non-organic foods, favoring organic University of California

Prop 37 would apply the strictest threshold level for unintentional traces of GM ingredients of any international mandatory labeling scheme, including that of the European Union (EU) where the threshold is 0.9% for adventitious (accidental) presence of GM. The California initiative would implement a zero-tolerance policy for accidental presence of small amounts of GM substances, even if the U.S. government has approved the GM material for human consumption. It will be impossible for farmers and the food industry to comply with such an impractical tolerance standard. source see above U of CA

Let me give you an example: Let’s say you are an all-natural ( now outlawed terminology under prop 37) using NON GMO seed for soybeans. Soybeans are self pollinating BUT in a number of cases and tests, they do and will cross-pollinate by bees.  This effectually limits the NON-GMO producer from being just that.. under the zero tolerance section of Prop 37 they are now GMO producers and will have to label as such.. “may contain GMO’s” .. We could get rid of all the bees and butterflies.. which along with the summer breezes are the largest pollinators on earth.. so what do we do? Will the people who are the consumers still purchase from YOU?  This will effectively kill the small farmer.

Next Scenario… Because the Good Neighbor/100 mile diet is so successful, what will happen to the all natural farmer; our friends, neighbors, ourselves?  Under prop 37 you will not be able to use the terminology “natural, all natural, etc”. Will the mom and dad, small farmer be able to afford testing to be sure there is no GMO blow over pollen from the farmer nearby? Or will they ignore this in an effort (to afford) to sell to the public? At the  risk of being sued.. This proposition is “ZERO tolerance”. No one really knows what the fiscal impact will be.

“The only practical way to meet 100% GMO-free purity standards for corn would be to create very large isolation zones in which only non-genetically modified corn is grown for miles around. Setting up and administrating such an isolation zone would be implausible at best in nightmarish at worst.”

The California State Attorney General only acknowledges the Fiscal impact from lawsuits which are certain.

State Regulation. The labeling requirements for GE foods under this measure would be regulated by DPH …develop regulations that describe the sampling procedures for determining whether foods contain GE ingredients.

Litigation to Enforce the Measure. Violations of the measure could be prosecuted by state, local, or private parties. It allows the court to award these parties all reasonable costs incurred in investigating and prosecuting the action… allows consumers to sue without needing to demonstrate that any specific damage occurred as a result of the alleged violation.


Increase in State Administrative Costs. This measure would result in additional state costs for DPH to regulate the labeling of GE foods, such as reviewing documents and performing periodic inspections to determine whether foods are actually being sold with the correct labels. Depending on how and the extent to which the department chooses to implement these regulations these costs could range from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million annually.

Potential Increase in Costs Associated With Litigation.

The romantic notion that by passing a proposition that will label 99% of what is on every table in California  will be rosy, wonderful and somehow noble and that all small farmers, co-op farming families will be protected from big corporate seed companies is a farce. This proposition is poorly written, kills the small farmer, and opens all farming families to litigation. Farmers no matter how small need to THINK AND READ AND BE INFORMED and not be given over to passion without reason. This bill is so poorly written.. protect the farmer, the family.. VOTE NO ON 37..



Now how about a label for GMO Free!

Date: Monday, October 29, 2012, 10:53 AM

I’m forwarding this to help clear up what Genetically Engineered foods are.  This is a bigger issue than just a California ballot measure.  It is important that we know what these “fake foods” are and their effect on our agriculture and our health.  We also recommend the movies “The Future of Food” and “Genetic Roulette” for additional clarification.  Try to evaluate the science behind DNA adulteration, without all the “politics” and “economics”.

We hope this helps,

The Won*.* family

Thanks Steve, I will forward this on.

In Service to Freedom, Love and Laughter
Know your Farmer
If you don’t have one, find one
If you can’t find one, become one
Vote Yes on Prop. 37.  Its our right to know what is in our food.  Label GMO’s!

On Oct 27, 2012, at 3:09 PM Steven wrote:

As you know, I am a biologist, and you are absolutely correct! Any one concerned about what this measure does or does not do should simply read the text of the measure which, incidentally, is the “genetically engineered (GE) food act” (not the GMO food act). This clearly defines what GE means in Article 6.6. Although GMO is commonly used interchangeably with GE, it is a mistake to think that either term includes methods of artificial selection used by breeders for the last 10,000 years, or evolution by natural selection. I say this as someone with a Ph.D in plant pathology who has actually done genetic engineering for basic research purposes (as opposed to commercial uses) and knows many scientists across the spectrum on this issue who would agree on this. The “biologist” referenced below was probably using the argument that GE technology is an extension of the traditional breeding techniques, and therefore sees the “moral” argument of “playing god” as invalid. However I will argue that if you went through the trouble of breeding a fantastic new variety of stonefruit, for example, you would say what it is on the label, and not just pass it off as the old variety. So if GE is unique enough to be patented, it should be labeled as such to the consumer.

Monsanto and the food processing industry are spending millions to confuse this point (and other points) and unfortunately, some of the folks in this email chain have CLEARLY not taken the time to learn about the terminology. This terminology is accepted by BOTH proponents and opponents of the technology, and both are commonly used in the scientific literature on the topic, and are clearly distinct from the meanings suggested below. Even if that were not true for the term GMO, the measure clearly refers to GE as I said, and thus their argument about traditionally bred crops is moot.

The cost of changing a label is exceedingly small, especially if they do what they do with nuts and just say “may contain GE ingredients” (the measure actually allows this, FYI). Furthermore, if the result was that shoppers actually stopped buying it this stuff on a wide scale, then the price of anything containing GE food would actually drop! Thus, anyone that didn’t care, or couldn’t afford the GE free food, would actually save money. Not only are some trying to confuse labeling with a ban (which arguably could cause prices to rise while farmers make the transition back), but they are counting on people not to think through the laws of supply and demand.

Furthermore, the measure specifically excludes meat from animals FED GE products. That is currently where most of this stuff goes (along with GE cotton) and so this may actually cause the price of corn and soy fed meat to drop as well!

What about the corn and soy farmers (because there are almost no other food crops currently on the market that are GE)? If they were to shift to non-GE crops due to the drop in price for GE commodities, they would benefit from the higher price of the non GE crop to cover any increased production costs, and if not, our system of subsidies would still support them. However, both the GE drop and the non-GE gain would only go as far as the market will bear. Ironic how little faith in the free market system there is among some people who I suspect consider themselves libertarians and republicans (and perhaps call Obama a socialist?).

Finally, most agbiotech companies have moved beyond GE for most crop-improvement goals because it is relatively simplistic by current technology standards, and doesn’t even get to the goal faster (than say, marker assisted breeding). In other words, you don’t have to be a anti-technology to vote for this, just for transparency and accountability.

So unless you work for Monsanto, its hard to understand why anyone would be against sharing information about a product (unless it indicates their product is inferior, and they will be forced to DROP their price!). And if I’m wrong and the price of corn syrup and other processed empty calories does goes up, maybe it will save some of the billions in health care costs these things cause!

Anyway, feel free to forward this to anyone you like, and keep up the good fight!

Steve *.*, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology



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