By: Devon G. Pena
A FARMER SAYS YOUR SUPPORT FOR LABELING
I am a farmer in the San Luis Valley, Colorado and I support Proposition 105, citizen-initiated referendum in our state for the labeling of genetically modified foods; also known as GMOs for "genetically modified organisms".
In a democracy, citizens must have access to information in order to make decisions that affect their quality of life. The right to know is a fundamental right in a true democracy.
By logic and legal extension of this basic principle, we also have the right to know what is in the food we eat and how it is produced. The right to know about our food is already codified into law in the form of required nutrition labels and other information used by consumers to make decisions, for example, dietary restrictions involving the consumption of sodium, fat and sugar or carbohydrates.
Proposition 105 states that all consumers, including our countrymen, we are entitled to know whether we buy food for our families contain GM ingredients or derivatives, to decide whether or not we want to eat.
In fact, the sale price of any item of food is another piece of information that a consumer has a right to know. So, despite what opponents are suggesting, not Proposition 105 calls for the establishment of a new law, but extends the right to know and to just stay against the pace of change and adapt to the presence of new technologies, changing cultural values, and legitimate social preferences. This is what occurs in a democracy and not something scandalous or abnormal order this type of information. If something can affect our health, and especially the young and old, should know by then make informed decisions.
Each farmer is also entitled to produce heirloom seeds, if appropriate to do so. This should happen without the farmer has to face the real threat of pollution and genetic damage caused by GMO crops in the vicinity. The right to know what is in our food this way is also the right to farm in the traditional way and for many Latino farmers in Colorado is a question of the survival of our cultural heritage through the production and conservation of heritage crops of great value, including our unique native corn varieties.
Corn producers who are members of the Colorado ditches require the protection of unique cultural and biological heritage of our state. I'm talking seed savers and plant breeders working in one of the big "centers of origin" of corn. The San Luis Valley in Colorado is part of the southwestern United States widely recognized as a legitimate sub-valley of the Mesoamerican center of origin (see Nabhan 2011 ).
Therefore, a vote for Proposition 105 is also a vote for family farmers of our state and especially those who are most vulnerable as guardiantes of our national agricultural heritage. Our Latino farmers in Colorado have developed unique varieties like the famous corn concho, a native white flint corn we use to produce our famous oven-roasted or guys adobe oven, which is itself a rare artisanal food that appears in Slow Food USA Ark of Taste. The genetic integrity of our corn is essential for the future of our way of life and sustainable agricultural path based on acequia farms.
Colorado Latinos farmers own and manage more than 1 million acres of the farm, open range, and forest lands in the state. We are one of the oldest producers in Colorado with some families that have sustained agricultural operations without interruption in the same place for six or seven generations or from the 1840s when the San Luis Valley was still part of the territory of New Mexico. We therefore have a larger direct stake in the outcome of the vote on Proposition 105 that any corporation like Monsanto, no real long-term bonds or plans for the future of cultural, agricultural sustainability, and local economies in our state.
I work as a manager of a station and agroecology experiments in agriculture ditch school on 184 acres irrigated by the rights of the state's oldest water, historic Acequia de la Gente de San Luis (San Luis Peoples Ditch). The rural area surrounding the Acequia de la Gente has four "Colorado Centennial Farms" with familiar names like Gallegos, Ortega, Valdez, and Atencio.
These are my neighbors and we each have a collection of native treasured heirloom seeds, most of the "Three Sisters" – corn, beans and squash. These seeds are planted every year and are irrigated with water from the pristine snowmelt that runs through our acequia irrigation networks that are so famous. The state of Colorado recently recognized the historical, ecological and economic value of our acequia farms where, in 2009, passed the Act Colorado Acequia Recognition . The passage of this important legislation speaks to the value of the resilience of the way Indo-Hispanic acequia farming as a valuable form of cultural life.
Our collections of heirloom seeds are a valuable treasure worth protecting. Colorado Prop105 help us move in the right direction, fulfilling the consumer's right to know as we are encouraged to take additional steps towards sustainable agriculture and food justice. One of the anticipated benefits of Proposition 105 is that small family farmers – like the San Luis Valley who grow organic produce and livestock as part of agricultural communities multigeneraciones families – have a better chance of providing heirloom crops high quality for the broader market in Colorado and even the national consumer public. The integrity and value of our heirloom varieties are safer when demand for products of GM crops in the rest of the Valley is decreased.
We are already seeing a growing forms of transition to more local-based agriculture crops organically produced and these are also becoming more affordable through programs that connect the farm to the table, spread throughout the nation including Colorado. This is a deep movement with strong roots in the first meals of Native Americans and Indo-Hispanic Colorado.
As Latino farmer, I am also concerned that the proponents of the industry blatantly lie to the public about the cost of food. I am concerned about the cost as many of my neighbors are limited resources for low-income families. Many fear that the cost of food will continue to increase and that the labeling of GMOs will make food costs rise even faster. This is a bold-faced lie.
The latest research on the costs of labeling of GMOs by Consumers Union – a non-partisan and respected organization – verifies that the actual cost of labeling of GMOs for the average consumer is about $ 2.43 per year . I commented on this costing a young worker in San Luis, Colorado, the other day. She quickly did the math in his head and replied, "Hijole, that's just pennies a day. I can afford that …, "and then, without hesitation," Let's do it! "
If a single three-, and low-income workers in a rural area of Colorado, mother is willing to do its part to pay for GMO labeling, we of the middle class we are also ready, right?
We can put to rest the claim that the implementation of a new GMO labeling requirement will be too expensive. Consumers should consider Consumers Union study findings to avoid being deceived by the scaremongering touted by corporate opponents of Prop 105 The cost of labeling inflation will not be a significant factor in the cost of food.
So I ask the support of my countrymen in Colorado Latinos: Do not forget to vote "Yes" for Prop 105 The future of our children and daughters in your hands.