California genetically engineered food-labeling law unlikely to pass

Measure would lead the way in US, say supporters

California’s Proposition 37, which would have required manufacturers to label all foods with genetically modified ingredients, looked unlikely to pass on November 7, gaining just 45 percent of the state’s votes while 55 percent opposed it, with more than 50 percent of precincts reporting. The measure would have been the first of its kind in the U.S.

In 2011, 88 percent of all corn and 94 percent of all soybeans produced in the U.S. were grown from genetically engineered seeds. Some other commonly genetically engineered crops include alfalfa, canola, cotton, papaya, sugar beets and zucchini.

Supporters of Prop. 37 cited a lack of evidence that genetically modified food is not harmful to humans as a reason to support the measure. ”Whether you buy genetically engineered food or not, you have a right to know what you are buying and not gamble on your family’s health,” they said. Detractors said extra costs attached to printing new labels would be passed on to consumers. State enforcement of the proposition would cost tax payers anywhere between a few hundred thousand dollars to $1 million annually, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Prop. 37 includes several labeling exceptions, such as foods made entirely from animals, certified organic food and wine. Other exceptions include foods that are:

  • unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material.
  • made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered ingredients.
  • processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients.
  • administered for treatment of medical conditions.
  • sold for immediate consumption, such as in a restaurant.
  • alcoholic beverages.