Last week my husband and I got the privilege of meeting Jere Gettle of Baker Creek Seeds for the first time. I can honestly say that I have never met a more genuine person. We only had a few minutes to chat with him as we stopped by the Petaluma Seed Bank, but in the first five seconds of chatting with Jere you know how passionate he is about what he does. I left there feeling like I needed to do more. It used to be all I cared about was what I did on our little third of an acre lot, here in Sacramento. Now I know I can do more to make change happen; one person at a time, one state at a time, and one country at a time.
With that, we have my first ever guest blog post thanks to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. Kathy McFarland from Baker Creek is here to tell you about a new California Intiative we are trying to get on the November 2012 ballot that simply requests that food sold in retail establishments that contain genetically modified crops are labeled with that information. Read on for more information:
Label GMOs—It's Our Right to Know!
Guest post by Kathy McFarland
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company owners Jere and Emilee Gettle are in Petaluma, California, working fervently to ensure that Americans are entitled to know what is in the food they purchase.
Having always been interested in pure food, the Gettle family has joined the Label GMO effort in California where they also own the Petaluma Seed Bank, a retail outlet for Baker Creek seeds.
Much of the world already requires labeling for genetically engineered foods. Fifty countries, including Japan, China, and the entire European Union already label foods with genetically engineered ingredients. Americans, too, deserve the right to choose between foods containing GMO and non-GMO ingredients.
The Committee for the Right to Know is a grassroots coalition of consumer, public health, environmental organizations, and food companies in California that is seeking the labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs). On November 9, 2011, the coalition submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General for the title and summary, prior to circulation as an initiative measure for the November 2012 election.
The initiative needs 504,760 valid signatures by April 20 to make it on the November 2012 ballot. Signatures can be declared invalid and thrown out for a number of technical reasons. Therefore, the campaign plans to collect a significantly higher number of signatures to make sure they have enough valid ones to qualify. It is imperative that anyone interested in having the right to know what is in our food should sign the petition.
Jere Gettle teamed up with Pamm Larry, founder of labelGMOs.org, to raise awareness of the initiative. He designed a special seed packet to be used for the campaign. The seed packets, packed with Baker Creek's non-GMO San Marzano Tomato seeds, are being distributed free all over the state of California. The San Marzano has been a favorite tomato of California gardeners for generations, and the campaign packets have become instantly popular. Anyone who would like to help distribute the free packets at farmers' markets, gardening events, or any other venue may simply email email@example.com with a mailing address and number of packets requested for distribution. Thousands and thousands of the special packets have already been sent for distribution, and many more thousands are being printed and packed.
While other states are also working on campaigns to get GMOs listed on nutrition labels, the Gettles are currently concentrating their efforts in California where there is large population of like-minded people in support of the measure. The feeling is that if the initiative passes in California, then other states will quickly follow. In most cases, it will not be financially feasible for companies to develop food labels listing GMOs only for the California market and also develop food labels without the listing for other states.
Anyone interested in joining the effort to require GMO ingredients to be labeled should contact www.labelGMOs.org to find out where they can sign a petition, how they can be trained to gather signatures, how they can donate to the campaign, or simply where they can get more information. Our right to know what is in our food depends on this ballot. Please don't wait to contact Jere Gettle at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pamm Larry at labelGMOs.org.. Let's get labeling on the ballot!
Kathy McFarland is a Baker Creek employee and life-long gardener.