Prop 37 judgment day upon us

Election day is almost here.

Prop 37 was still winning with the latest voter poll, but the margin has closed considerably. It was passing by only 8 percentage points a couple of weeks before the polls closed. At one time, polls had it passing by a 3 to 1 margin.

The No on 37 campaign is having an impact, especially the television ads with California doctors asking voters to reject the proposition.

Of course supporters of the proposition have yet to fire their first volley. This group has bought television time for the two weeks before the vote. Opponents are bracing for the scaremongering attack backlash to counter the No on 37 campaign.

If you have not asked your friends and neighbors to vote no on 37, do it now.

Opponents are taking great solace in the fact that some 40 newspapers have opposed Prop 37. Much of this, however, is because newspapers are fed up with California’s lawmaking by proposition.

I hope the initiative goes up in smoke. Regardless, the issue will not go away. The anti-GMO movement will always have legs, if not a scientific leg, to stand on. GMO agriculture will never be banned. The horse is out of sight of the barn with a majority of crops worldwide genetically modified and as much as 75 percent of what we eat coming from GMO crops — without one health incident.

However, agriculture and the companies who are developing GMO crops have a huge hole to escape from. The anti-GMO crowd long ago commandeered newspapers and television, creating a totally unwarranted hysteria. There are far too many consumers who oppose GMOs and cannot tell you exactly why. They can spout reasons fed to them without understanding what those reasons are.

An article regurgitated by the radicals had one person saying she did not want her food “grown in a laboratory.” Of course no one bothered to point out that traditional breeding is done in a laboratory, too.

My favorite was in the same article. An anti-GMO vote was a vote against “Bt toxins.” As anyone involved in agriculture understands, Bt is Bacillus thuringiensis.

Bt is a natural, soil-dwelling bacterium, commonly used as a biological pesticide. It also occurs naturally in the gut of caterpillars of various types of moths and butterflies, as well as on leaf surfaces, aquatic environments, animal feces, insect rich environments, flour mills and grain storage facilities. Bt is one of the most widely used pesticides in organic farming as well as conventional farming. Consumers were not given that information.

Facts like that and examples of the benefits of biotechnology have been widely publicized during the Prop 37 campaign.

One very good explanation of biotechnology has come from Richard Molinar, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Fresno County. Richard works with small farmers in the county. Western Farm Press has the report online.

Molinar’s report is entitled: "Classical Plant Breeding (Traditional) and Genetic Engineering – A Primer."

It is a very easy read and a must read for all consumers and a few organic growers, as well. Another good piece is a blog from Alex Berezow from Truth About Trade and Technology that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and is co-author of “Science Left Behind” (Public Affairs, 2012).

Here are a couple of excerpts from Berezow’s blog:

Scientists in New Zealand recently announced that they had welcomed into the world the newest genetically modified organism, or GMO: A cute, tailless cow named Daisy that produces low-allergy milk. The animal was engineered to address the problem of infant allergies to cow milk, which affect up to 3 percent of children in the developed world.

“In Africa, millions of people rely on bananas for food or as a source of income. However, a bacterium called Xanthomonas causes the disease BXW (banana Xanthomonas wilt) that devastates the crop. To prevent this, scientists engineered bananas with a gene from sweet pepper that provides resistance to BXW. The technology shows such promise and the threat posed by BXW is so great that last year Uganda waived its ban on GMOs so scientists could conduct field trials in the country.

“Genetic modification saved Hawaii’s papaya industry from the papaya ringspot virus. “Arctic apples,” which do not turn an unappetizing brown after they are sliced, are another recent invention.

“Truly, the innovations of biotechnology appear to be limited only by our imagination. Yet strong opposition exists to this revolutionary technology. Anti-biotechnology groups such as Greenpeace frequently mislead the public about GMOs by playing down the known benefits while overhyping small, theoretical risks. The result is that biotechnology is being held back by a scaremongering group of environmentalists who seem to think that saving the planet requires banning science and thwarting human progress.”

If good can be gleaned from Prop 37, it is more that information has been disseminated to the public in what hopefully will be a reversal of all the misinformation that has been fed to the public. 

TAGS: Legislative
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