California voters rejected Prop 37, the ballot initiative that would mandate the labeling of foods with any genetically-modified ingredients. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the proposed labeling law is headed for a clear defeat with 94% of all precincts reporting.
“We said from the beginning that the more voters learned about Prop. 37, the less they would like it,” said Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the opposition. “We didn’t think they would like the lawsuits, more bureaucracy, higher costs, loopholes and exemptions. It looks like they don’t.”
The California Right to Know campaign issued a press release today which stated, in part, as follows:
Yesterday, we showed that there is a food movement in the United States, and it is strong, vibrant and too powerful to stop. We always knew we were the underdogs, and the underdogs nearly took the day. Dirty money and dirty tactics may have won this skirmish, but they will not win the war.
Today, we are more than 4 million votes closer to knowing what’s in our food than when we started. This is a victory and a giant step forward. We are proud of our broad coalition of moms and dads, farmers, nurses, environmentalists, faith and labor leaders who did so much with so few resources to bring us to this point, and we will carry forward.
Please see the entire article from the San Francisco Chronicle here.
The Los Angeles Times is urging California voters to say “no” to Proposition 37, which would mandate the labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.
In most cases, there is no requirement to inform consumers, via labels, about the use of pesticides, hormones or antibiotics, or about the inhumane conditions in which animals are often kept. But Proposition 37 would make an exception for genetically engineered food, requiring that it be labeled before being sold in California. Although we generally endorse people’s right to know what goes into their food, this initiative is problematic on a number of levels and should be rejected.
One of the problems identified in the Editorial include an issue I raised in earlier posts — that the initiative “is sloppily written” and “contains language that … could be construed by the courts to imply that processed foods could
not be labeled as ‘natural’ even if they weren’t genetically engineered.”
Other problems the LA Times identifies with the proposal include:
- “Most of the burden for ensuring that foods are properly labeled would fall not on producers but on retailers”;
- “Enforcement would largely occur through lawsuits brought by members of the public …, a messy and potentially expensive way to bring about compliance”;
- “there is little if any evidence that changing a plant’s or animal’s genes
through bioengineering, rather than through selective breeding, is dangerous to the people who consume it”; and
- “the marketplace already provides ways to inform consumers about their food” and ”food producers are welcome to label their foods as GE-free” and “Organic foods are never genetically engineered.”
Please read the complete Editorial here.
Please see my “Power Lunch” article at FoodProcessing.com on the GMO-labeling ballot initiative in California titled Proposition 37: Food Transparency or Increased Organic Food Sales?
Please see my feature article in the August 2012 issue of Packaging Digest on the “extreme” labeling requirements that might result if California voters approve Proposition 37, also known as the “California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”
In related news, various entities are awakening to the fact that the language of Prop. 37 could potentially be read as precluding any “processed food” from being labeled or advertised as “natural,” “all natural,” or “naturally made” regardless of whether it includes GMO ingredients. See here and here. In fact, the Legislative Analyst’s Office of California, a non-partisan fiscal and policy advisor, specifically found that, “[g]iven the way the measure is written, there is a possibility that these restrictions [on "natural" labeling and advertising] would be interpreted by the courts to apply to all processed foods regardless of whether they are genetically engineered.” See here. Expect this issue to be the subject of much more discussion as the election approaches.