Proposition 37 is a ballot initiative Californians will vote on in November that would require a warning label on food products that include a genetically modified (GM) ingredient. Food companies routinely use corn, soy or canola ingredients in their products, and have had the choice and used GM ingredients for a long time. The safety and benefits of these ingredients are well established. The debate will be heating up in advance of the November vote in California, so we want to be clear about taking a stand against Proposition 37.

Consumers have broad food choices today, but could be denied these choices if Prop 37 prevails. Accordingly, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is supporting NO on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme, a coalition of California farmers, food producers, grocers and retailers formed to oppose Proposition 37. The NO on 37 coalition includes stakeholders involved in producing, manufacturing and selling food products. Interestingly, the main proponents of Proposition 37 are special interest groups and individuals opposed to food biotechnology who are not necessarily engaged in the production of our nation’s food supply. They are gearing up a campaign of misinformation.

(For more, see: Time to take on anti-biotech crowd over GMO labeling)

Labeling and Consumers’ Food Choices

Opinion surveys consistently report that consumers support FDA’s current labeling policy – mandatory labeling for important nutrition or safety information. Food companies can and do provide additional information voluntarily to meet the preferences of their customers. Hundreds of organic or certified non-GM products are available for consumers who prefer these products. This approach offers choices for all consumers and does so without the risk of confusing consumers who are satisfied with the products they know, trust and can afford.

Impact on Food Safety Confidence

Food safety is a top priority for consumers as well as those involved in producing and selling food products. Proponents of the California labeling proposal are misleading people about the safety of food in the marketplace, and their opinions are in stark contrast with leading health associations and government agencies. For example, the American Medical Association just re-affirmed that there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods. FDA says that such labeling would be inherently misleading to consumers.

(For more, see: Junkyard dog mentality will defeat food label initiative)

Scare Tactics

Leading proponents of Proposition 37 blatantly describe foods containing GM ingredients as untested and unsafe. This is simply untrue. Beneath their right to know slogan is a deceptive marketing campaign aimed at stigmatizing modern food production. While we respect that some people may choose to avoid GM ingredients, it is wrong to mislead and scare people about the safety of their food choices. The California proposal would serve the purposes of a few special interest groups at the expense of the majority of consumers.

The Right Thing to Do

Farmers have seen the environmental and economic benefits of modern food technologies for more than 15 years. Food companies see Proposition 37 as threatening the publics’ confidence in the safety of their products. Both have encouraged us to join with them in the effort to oppose the California proposition. We agree and believe that supporting the NO on 37 coalition is the right thing to do.

(For more, see: Court strikes blow to Yes on 37 campaign)

For more information on Proposition 37 and NO on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme, visit www.NoProp37.com.