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Prop 37 Recap: Genetically Modified Food Labeling Measure Loses

Omar Shamout |
November 7, 2012 | 2:37 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter


(Neon Tommy/ Dawn Megli)
(Neon Tommy/ Dawn Megli)
Proposition 37 failed at the ballot box in California, delivering natural food advocates a disappointing loss in a match in which they were vastly overspent.

Voters and agriculture industry experts were split over Proposition 37, the highly controversial ballot measure that would require retailers to label any genetically modified food (GMO).

An Oct. 30 USC Dornsife/LA Times poll found that support for the measure eroded 17 points over the last month, with only “44 percent of surveyed voters backing the initiative and 42 percent opposing it.” Early election results largely mirrored the last-minute polls.

That poll came on the heels of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s announcement that a labeling mandate on genetically modified foods would “mislead and falsely alarm consumers,” arguing there is no “credible scientific evidence that these foods are dangerous.”

Scientific studies on both sides of Prop. 37 came under fire for being biased and misleading. A study authored by two U.C. Davis agriculture professors was lambasted by some scientists because it was reportedly funded by the “No on 37”campaign.” Others described a French study as “below standard” that claimed Monsanto’s genetically modified corn caused cancer in lab rats.

The LA Times endorsed a “no” vote on 37 for a number of reasons. Chief among the paper’s criticisms of the proposition is the requirement that labeling be carried out by producers and retailers.

That’s something farmer Greg Palla told KPCC would cost up to $500,000 to implement – not including any legal fees should he be sued over it. 

But scientist Darya Pino pointed out that food companies relabel products all the time and counters the economic argument with a European study that found labeling GMOs did not result in higher prices for consumers on that continent.



Proposition 37's Flaws Dampen Support For Labeling Genetically Modified Foods

What Proposition 37 Means For Calif. Voters

Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the California Propositions here.

Reach Staff Reporter Omar Shamout here or follow him on Twitter.



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