California’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act will be on November’s ballot as Proposition 37, according to proposition numbers released late yesterday by the California Secretary of State’s office. The Right to Know measure calls for labeling genetically engineered foods and, if passed, would be the first law in the United States requiring labeling of a wide range of genetically engineered foods.
“Prop 37 is about our fundamental right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our children,” said Stacy Malkan, a spokesperson for the California Right to Know campaign. “Given the broad support in the state—and across the country—for the right to know if our food is genetically engineered, we are confident California voters will make history by passing Prop 37 in November.”
Polls show nearly unanimous support across the political spectrum for labeling of genetically engineered foods. Nine out of ten voters in the U.S. and in California back labeling, according to recent polls (see Mellman 2012, Reuters 2010, Zogby 2012). An April poll by San Francisco TV station KCBS found that 91% of Californians back labeling.
“This November, consumers in California will cast a critical vote on the right to know whether the foods they enjoy are genetically modified. This is simply a matter of consumer choice,“ said Marion Nestle, professor at the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University and author of the blog FoodPolitics.com.
The California Right to Know initiative is a simple measure that requires labeling of genetically engineered foods, which are plants or crops that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration occurs in a laboratory and is not found in nature. The United States is one of the only developed nations that does not provide consumers with labels stating that the food has been genetically engineered.
“More than 40 other countries -- including all of Europe, Japan, China and, beginning next January, India -- label genetically engineered food. The majority of people in the world have easy access to this information. Californians also deserve to be able to make informed choices about the food that they eat," said Cathy Calfo, executive director, California Certified Organic Farmers.
A wide array of consumer, health and environmental groups, businesses and farmers and scientists and doctors back the initiative. Major endorsers include Public Citizen, Sierra Club, American Public Health Association, United Farm Workers, California Certified Organic Farmers, Organic Consumers Association, Consumer Federation of America, Nature’s Path, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, Dr. Bronner’s, Eden Foods, Mercola.com, Center for Food Safety, Food Democracy Now! and the California State Grange.