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Proposition 37 Requires Genetically Engineered Food Labeling

by Bob Morris, published

Prop 37 would require labeling for most genetically engineered foods sold in California. Currently, 40-70% of food sold in California grocery stores has some GE ingredients.

Under Prop 37, retailers would be responsible for validating the labels on genetically engineered food. They would be required to prove that a specific food is not GE by producing a sworn statement from the supplier that the product does not knowingly contain GE material or by independent certification. Alcohol, organic foods, dairy products, meat, and poultry are exempt from Prop 37. Consumers would be able to sue over mislabeled foods without having to prove any actual damage occurred.

Proposition 37:

  • Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
  • Prohibits labeling or advertising such food, or other processed food, as "natural."
  • Exempts foods that are: certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages

The Yes on 37 campaign urges a yes vote.

Proposition 37 is a common-sense November ballot measure that will help consumers make informed choices about the food they eat. Written with broad input from food groups, industry, science, legal and health experts Prop. 37 (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) requires clear labels letting consumers know if foods are genetically modified. We already have food labels showing nutrition, allergy information and other facts consumers want to know. This measure simply adds information telling us if food is produced using genetic engineering.

The No on 37 campaign says:

Proposition 37 would ban the sale of tens of thousands of perfectly-safe, common grocery products only in California unless they are specially repackaged, relabeled or made with higher cost ingredients. Prop 37 is a deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme that would add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs, create new frivolous lawsuits, and increase food costs by billions — without providing any health or safety benefits.

Yes on 37 has a 30 second video linking those who lied in past about the dangers of cigarettes, DDT, and Agent Orange to those who say now that GE foods are safe. However, while GE foods have been around for almost twenty years, there is still no definitive word on its safety or lack of safety by scientists. Thus, voters will need to vote based on their opinion of the safety of GE food.

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