Janet Brown Speaks Out on Proposition 37

October 12, 2012

CUESA asked Janet Brown of Allstar Organics why Proposition 37 (Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food) matters to farmers as well as consumers.

sites/default/files/allstar_prop37_1.jpgProposition 37 is a very important opportunity for people to say what they think about the food supply and to maintain their right to be choosy about the kind of food they eat. Prop 37 only says that you have a right to know what’s in your food, and that’s probably something upon which almost everyone can agree.

I’m an organic farmer. We grow a lot of heirlooms. That’s seed that’s been handed down from generations of seed savers, and it’s had a chance to be eaten and grown and interact with other plants and the natural surroundings for hundreds of years. The genetically engineered plants have not evolved and adapted with everything else on the planet.

The point of genetic engineering is not to improve varieties. What it does is create an ownership over seeds and the food supply, and that’s its primary purpose. If you depend on that seed, then as a farmer, you can’t save your own seed from year to year. You become completely dependent on the company that engineers the seed, therefore it’s actually about ownership over what has been public domain since at least 10,000 year of agriculture.

In seed saving, the idea is you save the best of the best over years, and you put the seed in as many hands as possible. With genetic engineering, it narrows the ownership of a seed to a single company. It’s the opposite of the paradigm on this planet human beings have come to depend on.

Nowadays, there’s a whole raft of food sensitivities or allergies, and many times people go through extensive testing to see what the problem is, and perhaps they’ll never really know. In the case of genetically engineered food, unless it’s labeled, one doesn’t have the opportunity to exclude a food from their diet to see if that’s the problem. There’s a barrier to an individual managing their own health.

People all over the world are saying. “We’ve had enough of this.” Even if the presidential election is not something that moves you, or there are no other measures you want to vote for, you should go just to vote for this. This is the most important thing on the ballot for the world right now. We’re voting for more than ourselves; we’re voting for everybody.

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