Right to Know Blog

Faith Leaders For The Win! Labeling is a Moral Issue

aa-deuteronomy.jpgReligious and faith-based groups across California, including the Presbyterian Church, United Methodist Church and California Council of Churches, are urging people to vote Yes on Proposition 37, the California ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods.

Genetically engineered foods, also called GMOs, are fundamentally altered at the genetic level to combine the DNA of different species in ways that can't occur in nature. 

"In some circles, GMO means 'God Moves Over,'" wrote Dana Hull in the San Jose Mercury News. Genetically engineered food clashes with various religious beliefs, ranging from keeping kosher, to maintaining a healthy food supply, to protecting God’s creations.

"It is immoral that consumers be left in the dark about what is in their food. Californians have been leaders in the public’s ‘right to know’ on food labeling, and this is a good first step in continuing our pursuit of healthy food and market transparency,” said the California Council of Churches, which represents 21 Protestant and Orthodox denominations and over 1.5 million church members throughout California.

“In Deuteronomy 22:9-11, I believe that God is saying that the work of creating new species is not in the realm of work assigned to humanity; rather, it is in the realm of sacred work reserved for God,” said Rabbi Elihu Gevirtz of Los Angeles. “In this spirit, and in the spirit of the intent behind the laws of kashrut, it is best to know what is going into our food before we eat it.”

Sister Mary Ellen Lecejeiwski, ecology program coordinator of Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), one of the largest health care systems in the country, is trying to remove genetically engineered foods from its 40 hospitals wherever possible.

“Our desire is to have things labeled so that we can make the best decision on what foods to bring into our hospitals,” Sister Lecejeiwski said. “The more information we have, the better decision we can make about what to buy.”

“Our support of Proposition 37 flows from our dedication to ensuring that everyone has safe food that is produced in a way that preserves and protects Creation,” said Rev. Sally G Bingham, President of California Interfaith Power & Light and Canon for the Environment for the Episcopal Diocese of California. “The only way we can be sure if food is safe is if there is complete transparency and disclosure about the contents of the food we are about to consume. We are seekers of the truth.”

“In addition to this being an ethical issue for many religious people in our communities, it is also an economic justice issue,” said Devorah Brous, executive director of Netiya, a Jewish network that advances urban agriculture in Los Angeles. “As an interfaith network striving to build a resilient and equitable urban food system in LA, Netiya is particularly concerned about Angelenos that lack access to markets that sell GMO-free products.”

The Presbyterian Church cited its policy “calling upon governments, including our own, to enforce restraints on commercial activity in genetically modified foods until these crops are certified as safe by an appropriate, science-based organization.”

The Yes on Prop 37 endorsements from a diversity of religious groups reinforce grassroots voices who agree that Californians have a right to know if the food they are eating and feeding their families has been produced using genetic engineering. Opposing Proposition 37 are the largest pesticide and junk food companies in the world, which are spending $40 million on deceptive ad campaigns to confuse voters about this simple labeling initiative.

“Given the corporate opposition to this ballot initiative, the pro-labeling folks are truly in a David versus Goliath struggle,” said Andrew Kang Bartlett, the associate for national hunger concerns for the Presbyterian Hunger Programs.

California voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to require labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in the state – a requirement already in place in 61 other countries.

“Regardless of party affiliation, religious faith, income level, or race, Californians agree that we have a right to know what we’re eating and feeding our families,” said Tom Fendley, political director of Yes on 37 California Right to Know.  “Our opposition’s widely-discredited TV ads blanketing the airwaves attempt to divert voters from this fundamental value.”

A recently published article on Jewish news site Hillygram answers some of the questions about Prop 37.

Faith/Spiritual Endorsements for Prop 37

American Friends Service Committee

California Council of Churches IMPACT

California Interfaith Power & Light 

Deen Intensive Foundation

Divine Mission

Honeybee Ministries

Napa-Sonoma Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

National Presbyterian Church

National United Methodist Church (UMC)

Orange County Interfaith Coalition for the Environment

Pacific Unitarian Church

Pilgrim's Way

Plymouth United Church of Christ

Satyachetana Business Foundation (SCBF)

Satyachetana Educational Trust (SCET)

Satyachetana International (SCI)

Satyachetana Publications (SatPub)

Seventh Awakening

Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City

Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of North Bay

Southern California Ecumenical Council (SCEC)

Swami Sri Atmananda

Temple of the Ancient Dragons

Throop Unitarian Universalist Church Pasadena

UC Berkeley University Lutheran Chapel

Unitarian Legislative Ministry (UULMCA)

Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura

Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains Sanctuary Committee

University of Spiritual Research (USR)

For more information on Prop 37, see www.carighttoknow.org



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followed this page 2015-04-20 17:14:31 -0700
commented 2012-11-06 00:28:53 -0800 · Flag
I have a question.

Has anyone ever had a strange kind of scalp itching immediately after consuming certain strains of rice? I am wondering if this apparent allergic response is common, is caused by GMO rice, or is just my own immune system. I have never experienced such a reaction until quite recently.
commented 2012-10-29 13:19:39 -0700 · Flag
Leviticus 19:19 “Keep my decrees, do not mate different kinds of animals…” Human genes in cows, spider genes in goats, and now human genes in rice…wait…that’s not just crossing species, it’s crossing kingdoms.