When it comes to Fair Oaks mother Susan Lang’s 8 and 11 year old boys, food is everything.
“My younger son has had eczema and digestive issues, so I started looking into diet and what they eat,” explained Lang, “That’s how I became aware of GMOs.”
GMO stands for “genetically modified organisms” and is also known as biotech foods. Some of the foods and crops we eat have been genetically altered, and Dr. Alison Van Eenennam said there’s a reason for it. “A more sustainable approach to growing crops,” she explained, “Allows producers to grow crops using less pesticides, and decreased water, and increase yields.”
But not all farmers have taken this approach; Grant Lundberg of Lundberg Family Farms said their company has chosen not to modify their rice crops. “Farming has always used natural selection and breeding processes,” said Lundberg, “(Biotech) was a new technology. We didn’t know how it impacted the environment or people’s health.”
Many foods have genetically modified ingredients while others don’t, but Lang said trying to figure which is which is tricky, “There’s a lot of guesswork because (the food) isn’t labeled (if it has GMOs).”
This is the issue of Proposition 37 which would require labels for foods that are genetically modified or have GMO ingredients. “These foods are not well tested and we’re feeding them to our children,” said Lang who supports 37, “I want a choice about what I feed my children.”
GMOs have been around for about 20 years, and Van Eenennam said biotech foods are safe. “The American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of studies have shown the safety of this food.”
Van Eenennamm is against 37 and added it’s not fair because not all foods would get labeled. “Milk and meat from animals that have eaten genetically engineered food are exempted,” she said, “Foods from a restaurant are exempted.”
She also worries the cost of food would go up because of labeling requirements and potential lawsuits, but 37 supporters like Lundberg said there’s no reason to sue because the person suing isn’t allowed to get money.
“I can’t say if it’s going to be more expensive or not,” he said about labeling cost for food producers. He added, this is an issue that capitalism will take care of, “If there’s value, the market will figure out how to manage it.”
Van Eenannam is worried the labels will put companies that use GMOs out of business, “I think (the label) could be seen as a skull and crossbones for a really safe food.”
As for Lang’s stance, “We have a right to know what we’re eating.”