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Californians to Decide GMO Labeling Debate on Prop 37

by Thomas G. Brown, published

Prop 37 in the state of California will be on the ballot November 6th. The voter guide provides a description of the bill and what it means. There is a group for and against this referendum and their claims will be examined through the prism of the description offered in the California voter's guide.

Genetically Engineered food (GE) are foods which are those animals and plants that have been altered at the genetic level for benefits.  Labeling will be required for all raw foods such as fruits and vegetables that are even partially modified by GE must have labels on their package or in the bin or shelf they are being displayed.

The labeling would also extend to processed foods such those that contain corn syrup. Not all foods will be required to be labeled such as milk that is not soy, beef and chicken that are not genetically modified themselves but have been fed grains and foods that have. Also, organic foods will be all be exempt from this labeling.

The regulation if the labeling will be done by the Department of Health Services of California. This regulation will allow consumers to sue manufactures, producers, and stores who mislabel products if not corrected within 30 days. This will conform to the  Consumers Legal remedies Act which allows such lawsuits without need to show damages.

A large group of big food manufacturers, seed producers, biotechnology firms such as Monsanto, DuPont, PepsiCo, and Kraft Foods to name a few. These groups claim that the cost of the grocery store will cost folk between 300 and 400 more dollars a year. This claim is based on the food industry having to reformulate their foods with non-modified versions of the products just for the California market.

In addition the folks against the bill point to the rise of frivolous lawsuits if it passes. This again does not seem to be backed up by anything written in the bill. It is true that consumers can sue without the need to show damages. But the law would allow the manufacture or distributor of the product that is mislabeled 30 days to correct the issue before a lawsuit could go forward.

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