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GMOs At Center Of Prop 37 Debate

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DAVIS (CBS13) – Most people want to know what’s in the food they eat, but critics of California’s Proposition 37, including many farmers, say the initiative goes way too far.

A local farmer growing genetically engineered corn says it’s safe and that he feeds this type of food to his kids. But CBS13 spoke to another parent who says she questions the safety, and has a right to know if her food has been altered.

As a mother of two, Susan Lang says she always reads labels and tries to buy organic to keep her family healthy. Now she’s concerned about GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, foods engineered in a lab where the DNA is altered.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions about the long-term effects of these foods that we’re feeding to our children,” said Lang.

She’s now a campaign volunteer trying to pass Prop 37, which “requires labeling on raw or processed food…if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specific ways.”

“The pesticide companies don’t have a right to decide what I’m going to buy as a mother,” said Lang. “I’m not a scientist. I’m a mother. I get to decide.”

Fifth-generation farmer Erik Freese would have to label the corn he grows in Davis if Prop 37 passes. He says consumers will pay the price for three key reasons: new labels where more red tape will increase costs, food producers will start switching to more expensive ingredients that are not genetically altered, and farmers in the business will face litigation because of how Prop 37 is written.

“The right to know, it’s actually the right to sue because everyone is going to be sued,” said Freese. “It’ll just be a massive increase in food costs.”

Freese also stands by the safety of his crops, saying farmers have been cross-breeding traits for generations and that this growing practice will provide much more affordable, good nutrition for people in need.

“Food source that’s safe, that’s viable, that’s nutritious, that’s readily available,” Freese explains.

At this point, there is no proven health risk, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.

However, supporters of Prop 37 say it’s too soon to know the impact of these types of foods, and they have a right to know either way.

Our sister station CBS5 has conducted a new, non-scientific poll on Prop 37 that is pretty evenly split with 39 percent of voters certain to vote “yes”, 30 percent certain to vote “no”, and 31 percent unsure. That’s a big change from a month ago when the measure was supported 51 percent to 16 percent.

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