California GMO food labeling vote could shift U.S. food supply

A proposed statewide measure in California, appearing on the ballot there in November, could change the way Americans approach their food supply.  Proposition 37, also known as “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act”, would require labels on all foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Supporters of Prop. 37 say now is the right time for the bill. According to the text for  the proposed measure,  a large majority of consumers want to know if their foods have been produced with GMOs. It notes that over 50 countries, including several major U.S. trading partners, already have laws in place requiring the disclosure of GMO foods.  And it points out that California has more organic farming than anywhere else in the United States, accounting for nearly 25 percent of all certified organic operations in the country.

Several major corporations  and food producers are lined up against the bill and have reportedly invested about $25 million in their fight against Prop. 37.  Food giant Monsanto (NYSE: MON), chemical company E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company (NYSE: DD.PA) and the Grocery Manufacturers Associations are among the organizations funding the No on 37 campaign. That campaign describes the measure as a deceptive food labeling scheme that would raise food costs, increase taxes and add to government bureaucracy.

“We support the position of the U.S. government, the American Medical Association and our customers that there is no health or safety need for labeling GMO food,” said Dow (NYSE: DOW) spokesman Garry Hamlin in an email to GreenBiz. “We recognize that some consumers want their food produced according to unique specifications. However, we believe that demands like these can be readily met by market dynamics, as demands for unique food products have always been met within free market systems in the past.”   

Image of cubed tomato by Franck Boston via Shutterstock.

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