Thaddeus Barsotti Speaks Out on Prop 37
October 12, 2012
By Thaddeus Barsotti, chief farmer and co-owner of Capay Organic/Farm Fresh to You
My brothers and I run a second-generation family farm and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the Capay Valley. We also farm in Imperial and Ventura counties to supply our Southern California CSA customers. We feed thousands of California families each week through our Farm Fresh to You CSA.
We believe in a connection to the farm that grows your food because this gives you as the consumer the information you need to make an educated choice about what food you eat and feed your family.
This transparency is at the core of what we do, and we believe customers are entitled to the information required to make decisions about the food that they choose to consume.
For this reason, we support Prop 37 on the Nov. 6 ballot. Prop 37, also known as the Right to Know ballot initiative, simply requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to the consumer if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic materials changed in specific ways. Accurate labels allow consumers to make informed choices about the food that they choose when shopping for themselves and their families. Labels already include calories, fat grams, allergy information, and ingredients—the use of GMOs introduces different ingredients into the food system. Customers deserve to know if these ingredients are in their food.
Most developed nations already require labeling of GMO foods—all of the European Union, Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia, to name just of few of the 50 countries that have this requirement. It is clear that they understand that GMOs are new food technology and contain different ingredients about which their citizens need to be informed. Prop 37 empowers citizens to make choices about their food that otherwise will be made by companies for the benefit of the company and not necessarily the consumer.
There is broad support among Californians for Prop 37. There is also big opposition from big agriculture and food conglomerates that have contributed $25 million to date to oppose Prop 37. If these companies thought that consumers really wanted to ingest GMOs, why would they not be proud to label their products with their true ingredients?
The opposition brings up “bounty hunter” lawsuits to scare small farmers. In fact, the measure provides no incentives for lawyers to sue. Rather, it gives greater legal certainty to businesses by providing clear threshold standards.
Adding a few words to a label will empower consumers to know what they are buying and what they are feeding their families. It is the consumer’s right to have the information needed to choose whether or not to support the new food system that is being built around GMO ingredients. I fully understand and agree that the choice to support or not support GMO ingredients is each person’s individual choice. Supporting Prop 37 will provide consumers with the information needed to make this choice.