By Bradford Heap | Chef and Owner, Colterra, Niwot, CO; and SALT, Boulder, CO
As a Coloradan, chef, and restaurateur committed to farm-to-table quality, integrity, taste, health, and the environment, I join organizations like the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Moms Across America, Conservation Colorado, and others in my support of GMO labeling, and encourage Coloradans to vote yes on Proposition 105 this November to require the mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods sold in Colorado.
As a father, I choose non-GMO foods for my kids when I can, but since an estimated 85-percent of grocery products sold in the U.S. contain genetically engineered ingredients without having to be labeled as such, it’s hard to make informed choices at the supermarket for my family. While pro-biotech interests claim that GMOs are safe, a growing body of scientific research suggests that there may indeed be enough risks to warrant the need for consumer transparency and justify the call for mandatory GMO labeling.
Colorado’s Proposition 105 calls for the mandatory labeling of foods containing ingredients from transgenic crops derived in the laboratory through recombinant DNA technology—a technology that splices genes from bacteria, viruses, or other foreign species into major food crops—pairings that would never occur in nature—to create genetically engineered crops that make their own toxic pesticides, or that can withstand ever increasing amounts of toxic, synthetic herbicides. The primary GMO crops include genetically engineered corn, soy, canola, cotton, and sugar beets, which make their way into just about all grocery products sold in the U.S.
Yet, according to a July 2013 New York Times survey, Americans overwhelmingly support GMO labeling, with 93-percent of respondents saying that foods containing genetically modified or GMO ingredients should be identified. According to a recent survey conducted by RBI Strategies in Denver, 71-percent of Coloradans favor GMO labeling.
In fact, more than 64 other countries, including the entire EU, China, Russia, Japan, Brazil, and elsewhere, require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered or GMO foods. Colorado joins more than two dozen other states, including Oregon, Arizona, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, in calling for GMO labeling legislation.
In Colorado, anti-labeling forces have pumped nearly $10 million into the state to try to defeat a grassroots initiative with less than $1 million in funding. These corporations trying to kill Prop. 105 include just a handful of out-of-state, multinational pesticide and junk food companies pumping millions into Colorado to control the election in our state—companies including Monsanto, Pepsico, Kraft Foods, General Mills, Smuckers, Dow, Conagra, Welch’s, Pioneer/Dupont, and others that are hooked on the GMO treadmill and don’t want to get off.
These companies are more concerned with protecting their profits over consumers. In fact, this coalition has spent more than $100 million over the past three years to defeat state campaigns and to keep consumers in the dark about how their food is made when it comes to genetic engineering.
In my restaurants, Colterra and SALT, I have taken extra steps to ensure my menu is non-GMO. It’s what my customers, my staff, and my family wants. And we’d like all Coloradans to have the ability to choose GMO or non-GMO by requiring mandatory GMO labels.
This Halloween, I promised my kids I’ll pay them a dollar for every pound of GMO-laden candy they bring home so that we can instead buy them non-GMO chocolates and treats. It’s one step one family is making. But together, all Colorado families can make a big change—one that can affect truth in labeling across the country—by voting Yes on 105. It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for our broken food system and make a change with every purchase, and it starts November 4th.
For more information, visit righttoknowcolorado.org.
This article was written with assistance from Steven Hoffman, Compass Natural Marketing, Boulder, CO.