California’s Proposition 37 is the subject of fierce debate between consumer’s rights groups who argue that the measure is necessary to protect Californians from misleading labeling, and farm advocates who argue that the proposition will cost farmers and consumers millions of dollars in added costs.
The measure, known as the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative, is the latest in local protests against genetically modified food production. For the past several years, as agricultural giants like Monsanto have been pushing the development and production of genetically modified food products, farmers and consumers have found themselves at the center of a firestorm in the farm community.
Organic farmers, particularly those who find themselves neighbors to Monsanto fields, have argued that crosspollination damages their ability to guarantee that their produce is organically grown. Consumers have argued that genetically modified foods are often unlabeled and are sometimes marked as natural (as opposed to organic, a label governed by USDA regulations).
The California ballot measure seeks to address some of these concerns. It would require labeling of food “from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.” It would also forbid labeling or advertising genetically modified food products as natural.
Opponents of the measure argue that it would cost farmers and food processors an estimated $1.2 billion in added costs. Opponents also add that genetically modified food is safe and that the ballot measure provides no discernible benefits.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer