Despite its good intentions to provide consumers with more information about genetically modified foods, Proposition 37’s ambiguous provisions are ultimately problematic.
The measure, which would require genetically modified foods in California to be labeled, indicates a positive concern about our impact as consumers on the environment and a growing awareness about how our food is produced.
But the bill’s wording could prohibit “natural” labels on foods, like grain or olive oil, that have been pressed or milled, even if they were not genetically modified.
This confusion over what labels would mean would defeat the entire purpose of informing the consumer.
Moreover, labeling would be the responsibility of retailers rather than producers and would be enforced through costly lawsuits.
There is currently little evidence that genetically engineered foods are dangerous to the consumer.
So although it’s difficult in principle to oppose the consumer’s right to know about the food they are consuming, this board believes there needs to be more independent study on the effects of GMOs.
More comprehensive regulation, exercised by the federal government rather than individual states, would more efficiently provide oversight on the food industry.
For now, consumers can already exercise power through the choices they make within the free market. Consumers who want to avoid genetically modified foods can purchase organic products, which do not contain GMOs.
We are not against the principles of environmentally friendly consumption but unfortunately, this measure is ill-conceived.