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Cali's Proposition 37 - Should Genetically Engineered Food be labeled?

Posted Jul 22 2012 5:59pm
What is Proposition 37?
By Jan. 1, 2014, front-of-package labeling indicating "genetically engineered" would be placed on raw GMO food products. Similar labels for bulk food would appear on shelves or bins. Processed foods, including canned, frozen and milled products, would carry labels saying they were "partially produced" or "may be partially produced ... with genetic engineering."
The measure’s been dubbed by supporters as the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. It qualified for the California ballot with nearly 1 million signatures.

The initiative defines genetically engineered food as produced from a plant or animal whose biological traits contain DNA that has been manipulated in a laboratory at the cellular level. Pioneered more than two decades ago, the technique boosts productivity by making crops resistant to insects, plant diseases, pesticides and herbicides. The biggest successes have been with commodities that are staples in most processed foods (corn, soybean, sugar beet).
What is at Stake?
·         Genetically engineered crops account for about 90 percent of U.S. corn, soybean and sugar beet production.
·         An estimated 70 percent to 80 percent of processed foods sold in supermarkets could be affected, along with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
·         Labeling in California could set a precedent that’s followed nationwide.
·         Food Items exempt from labeling: Most meat and dairy products, eggs, certified organic foods, alcohol, restaurant meals.  
·         Foods could not be labeled "natural" if any of their ingredients were genetically engineered.

Players supporting Prop 37 labeling of GMO foods
·         Website:  ( was another support website, but it’s gone now?).
·         Natural food businesses and activists
·         Those fearing big companies could gain monopolies over supplies of expensive patented seeds that make crops resistant to being doused with herbicides

A California-specific poll, released Thursday by the Business Roundtable and the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, showed Proposition 37 has a 3-to-1 ratio of support, with 64.9 percent of prospective voters favoring it, compared with 23.9 percent opposed.
Ctrl + click here for exhaustive list of supporters.

Players opposing Prop 37 labeling of GMO foods
·         Website:
·         Multinational companies including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Kellogg
·         Processed food and biotech industries

Opponents say labeling would unfairly besmirch popular and reputable products, raise food prices and spur frivolous lawsuits while doing little to protect the public’s health. Passage of the initiative could create a cumbersome patchwork of state food-labeling laws if other states follow California’s lead, they contend.
Ctrl + click here for exhaustive list of opponents.

Regulatory Bodies are ok with GMO foods
·         The U.S. Food and Drug Administration decreed genetically engineered foods to be safe.
·         The FDA’s labeling policy since 1992 has said it "has no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.”

Reference: July 22 article in the Boston Herald, originally featured in LA times
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