Biotech food has received endorsements from countless governmental and scientific groups, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to the American Medical Association. They all say it’s perfectly safe to eat, and no different from non-biotech food. It’s utterly conventional.

What’s more, consumers who want to avoid biotech food, for whatever reason, already can do so: They simply need to select products that are labeled organic.

If food companies were forced to change their packaging to conform with special rules that apply only to items sold in California, the cost of food production would rise. The companies would pass on these costs to consumers. Trips to the grocery store would become a bit more expensive, all for the sake of labels we don’t even need.

Our society already has too many labels. In California, every gas pump carries a label that warns about the toxicity of what we put into our vehicles. Nobody reads them. They are in fact worse than useless because they create cynicism about the very idea of labels, encouraging us to ignore them all, even the ones we do need.

A number of years ago, Oregonians considered an initiative similar to the one we’ll see on the California ballot. When voters studied the details–and saw an economic analysis that suggested the average family would pay hundreds of dollars in additional food costs–they rejected the plan.

Californians should to the same in 2012. A costly and ineffective labeling law would be a bad idea in the best of times, let alone at a time when our state risks going from broke to broker.

Ted Sheely raises lettuce, cotton, tomatoes, wheat, pistachios, wine grapes and garlic on a family farm in the California San Joaquin Valley. He volunteers as a board member for Truth About Trade and Technology www.truthabouttrade.org.