Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

Genetically modified foods linked to animal deaths, liver damage and sharp rise in allergies

May 28, 2012 (Sacramento)--California is ground zero in the growing national movement to give consumers the right to know if their food contains genetically engineered food, according to today’s front page story in the New York Times. The California Right to Know ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods “cleared a crucial hurdle this month, setting the stage for a probable November vote that could influence not just food packaging but the future of American agriculture,” wrote Times reporters Amy Harmon and Andrew Pollack.

The California Right to Know campaign submitted nearly one million signatures to the state May 2 – nearly twice the number needed to get on the November ballot. This monumental achievement puts California at the forefront of national public outcry for the right to know about genetically engineered food. 

In March, more than one million people submitted comments to FDA on a petition asking for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Polls show that 90% of Americans want this type of labeling.  Twenty states have tried to legislate GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling but none have succeeded, due to intense opposition from corporate special interests.

Genetically modified foods contain genes spliced from one organism into another, including adding genes from bacteria and viruses into the food supply. The goal is often to increase crop yield. This has led to at times bizarre results, such as Monsanto registering a GMO potato as a licensed pesticide after failing to gain legal recognition as a food for a potato with an herbicide gene spliced into it. The European has a moratorium banning GMOs from store shelves amid growing health concerns.

Soy allergies increased 50% in the United Kingdom after GMO soy was introduced. GMO soy contains an allergen-type protein not found in natural soy. So does GMO corn, yet the majority of the soy and corn sold in the U.S. is GMO. (You can avoid it, for now, by buying certified organic products which by law in the U.S. may not contain GMOs.) 

There are troubling signs of even more serious problems.  Rats fed GMOs developed serious liver problems and over half the children of mother rats fed GMO soy died within three weeks of birth, researchers found. Sheep grazing on Bt cotton plants (a GMO crop) had a 25% fatality rate within a week. Over two dozen U.S. farmers reported that BT corn caused sterility in pigs and cows.  Learn more about health issues associated with GMO crops here:

California will be the only state to vote on the issue this fall. “We have a right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our children. The voters of California will surely vindicate our rights this November,” said Stacy Malkan, media director for the California Right to Know campaign.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has not seriously investigated health risks of GMOs. Currently, however, the FDA is headed by a former executive from Monsanto, the world’s leading company producing GMO products. Critics contend that the FDA has failed to protect consumers.

For more information, visit


Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.