SANTA BARBARA — Labeling genetically modified food will be up to voters in November. Some of the country’s biggest agriculture businesses are spending some big bucks to keep special labels off genetically modified food. Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and Cargill have given nearly $25 million to defeat Proposition 37. The proposition will be on the upcoming ballot and will give voters the choice to choose whether or not they want genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food labeled as such. If passed, it would require most processed foods to have a label by 2014. Some people are fearful of the altered crops and other don’t mind so much. Genetically modified foods contain ingredients from plants with altered DNA. “Your dollars very, very well and increasingly so nowadays, may be going towards food that is what we call ‘frankenfood,'” said Diane Panella.”As long as it doesn’t hurt me to eat it, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Rick Stanley, Oxnard resident.In the case of corn in the United States, more than 80 percent of the crops already contain genetically modified organisms. The owner of Lane Farms in Santa Barbara said the genetic alterations make the crops resistant to insects and is “RoundUp ready.””It’s made so they can spray the herbicide, weed killer, RoundUp over the top of the corn then they don’t have any weeds in their corn crop,” said John Lane. Lane’s corn is pesticide free and many of the fruits and vegetables sold at his stand are organic. But he’s not necessarily against the modified food. “I don’t want to condemn the big farmers that are actually feeding the world right now, where I’m just a little guy feeding local people here and I know I’m not using it,” said Lane. Kenny Stittsworth owns an organic company called Maca. He even has a label on the bottle of his product that states it is Non-GMO verified. “I think the truism of it is is that it’s actually genetically mutilated organisms that we’re talking about. Because once these genetically mutilated organisms are released into the environment, there’s no taking it back,” said Stittsworth. The genetically engineered crops were first introduced to commercial farming in 1996 and is USDA approved. But whether or not they will be labeled will be up to voters in just a few months. Opponents of Proposition 37 say foods with the labels will scare and confuse shoppers but proponents of the proposal say it is about letting consumers know what they’re eating.
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