LA Times: “No on Proposition 37”

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.

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