Yesterday’s re-election of Barack Obama was the big news story, but tucked in amongst all the election fan fair and references to Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” was news of several bills being passed or defeated. Of particular note to agriculture was Prop 37, a Californian bill that would require labeling of products that “may contain” ingredients grown from crops that were genetically modified.

Proponents of the bill list their “right to know” what’s in their food as the reason for the law. Those against the bill say it’s deeply flawed as it’s written and would cost taxpayers and farmers thousands if not millions in lawsuits, lost business and increased grocery bills. Those against the bill argued that simply listing existing products as GMO-free achieves the same thing without legislation. As an example of how flawed the bill was, Tim Sheely writes how pistachios on his farm would not be allowed to use the term “naturally opened” because the bill redefines the term “natural.”

The defeat (though still unofficial) of Prop 37 was a win for agriculture and for consumers, as the bill was poorly worded and would have caused undue financial stress and strain on the industry. But as Willie Vogt of Farm Futures writes in this post, this is not the last we’ve seen of demands of mandatory GMO labeling. The bill was well supported in urban centres; consumers’ negative perception of genetically modified crops, however misguided, and their appetite to know what’s in their food is only increasing. The agriculture industry needs to either change these perceptions or push for fair labeling, and neither is an easy task.

5 thoughts on “Prop 37 Defeated But This is Not the End of the GMO Labeling Issue

    1. By all means lets ban all chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and strains of GMO crops. Then lets see how the consumer likes it. Maybe when junk food (fast food) increases in price by 5 X’s they will not eat so much of it. A foreigner told me “eveyone wants to move to the USA as its the place in the world where the poor can be fat.” Food is abundant and cheap.

      1st thing north American’s have to fix when it comes to their food is the unhealthy type of food and amount they are eating. With the epidemic of obese youth growing yearly and the health costs to deal with it all it paints a bleak picture for our future. Kids and I guess their parents think a big mac, fries and a gallon of coke is “meal” its pretty sad.

  1. Not so much that people shouldn’t know what is in their food, but the fact is it is in EVERYTHING. So to have to make new labels for everything is kinda a big pain in the butt. Administrative nightmare! Besides the scientists really need to talk to marketers before naming anything. Do you really think there would be all this hub bub if we had just called them “genetically enhanced organisms” or GEO’s for short rather than a word that can have negative connotations like “modified”?? Think about that one while eating your GMO free cheerios in the morning…

  2. I for one have to stay away from wheat flour now is it because I had to much spray drift on me back 45 years ago when weed spray chemicals were not feared like they are today? Spraying now means suiting up with diposeable coveralls,rubber boots, nitile gloves, eye googles,hat and a breathing mask with chemical filters. Now if I had wore all of this back when weed sprays were not considered poisons would I not have the health issues that I have today???? The chemical companies say that there is no left over residue on our food crops, I for one say prove it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sorry but this applies to GMO’s for me as well!!!!!

    1. I would say the safety equipment has more to do with education and research than things being less safe. My playbook has a national film board app and I have watched some of the old films from the 40’s on agriculture with no one wearing equipment and spraying the trees with insecticides. My grandmother vividly remembers driving the wagon in the apple orchard with my grandfather spraying off the back. We look back now and shake our heads at these activities. I’m glad people are taking more precautions now to safeguard their health.

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