Chemical and Agribusiness Interests Defeat California's Proposition 37
Measure Would Have Required Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food
California's Proposition 37, which would have required clear labels on genetically engineered food, was defeated following a $45 million opposition campaign financed by chemical and agribusiness industry opponents. Supporters of the measure pledged to continue their campaign to enact labeling requirements for genetically engineered food despite the setback in California.
"Californians and all Americans deserve the right to know what's in their food," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. "Unfortunately, Proposition 37 was defeated by a wildly deceptive smear campaign financed by Monsanto, DuPont, and other industry opponents of the public's right to know. In the end, opponents of Proposition 37 didn't want Californians to be able to make informed decisions about whether to buy food that had been genetically engineered."
Consumers Union endorsed Proposition 37 and has long supported efforts at the federal and state level to require labeling of genetically engineered food. A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its genetic material artificially altered in a laboratory. Genetic material may be added from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria in order to produce a desired change in the plant or animal. Fifty countries already require labeling of genetically engineered food, including all of Europe, Japan, India, Brazil, Korea, and China.
Genetically engineered food has not been proven to be safe, and definitive long-term health studies have not been conducted. While Europe, Australia, and Japan require premarket safety assessments like the safety evaluations required for the approval of new food additives, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require safety studies for genetically engineered foods.
Various environmental problems associated with genetic engineering have been documented, including an overall increase in pesticide use, the emergence of superweeds that are threatening millions of acres of farmland, and the unintentional contamination of non-GMO and organic crops.