As if, the California economy needs another drag on its recovery. Here is the study (pdf file).
The Genetically Engineered Foods Mandatory Labeling Initiative (A.G. File No. 11-0099 – hereinafter the Initiative) would have a substantial impact on California consumers.
The Initiative would change how many of the foods they eat are produced and would make that food more expensive. At the same time, however, the Initiative would provide relatively little by way of consistent and useful information to consumers because of the loopholes and exceptions in its language and the uneven ways in which it would apply to the same food consumed in different settings.
The key provisions of the Initiative require that foods purchased for at-home consumption must be labeled “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” if the food contains at least 0.5 percent (by weight) of a genetically modified ingredient. The threshold level drops to 0 percent in 2019.
The Initiative also bars the use of the word “natural” in packaging or advertisements for virtually all foods, regardless of whether they include genetically engineered ingredients.
The Initiative contains many exemptions, creating a patchwork of labeling requirements for foods in which some foods consumed at home might require a label, but the same food eaten in a restaurant would not. Under the Initiative, the following are exempt from labeling, regardless of whether or not they contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients:
- Foods certified as organic
- Foods consisting of or derived entirely from animals, regardless of whether the animal has been fed GE feed or injected with GE drugs
- Alcoholic beverages
- Foods eaten away from home
- Food made using GE processing aids or enzymes.
The wide range of exemptions means that consumers could still purchase and consume a wide range of foods made from or containing GE ingredients, but that would not be subject to labeling under the Initiative. The potential therefore exists for bizarre inconsistencies where identical products consumed at home and in a school cafeteria would be required to have a label in the first instance, but not in the second. The way in which the Initiative is drafted opens the possibility for a wide range of absurd outcomes regarding what is and is not subject to labeling.
It is one thing about disclosure about what is in your food, but it is another, about a poorly written initiative that has not been subjected to legislative scrutiny in the California Legislature.
Also, what is this initiative doing besides unnecessarily driving up food costs without providing any benefit except to certain special interest “organic” farmers and trial lawyers?
Vote No on Proposition 37.