What is in this article?:
- California‚Äôs GE labeling measure must be rejected
- Gaming the system
- Prop 37 contains ominous tentacles that reach beyond simply informing consumers of GE contents. This threat is what makes the GE labeling crusade so dangerous to agriculture.
- Up to 20 other U.S. states have similar labeling bills on their ballots. What sets Prop 37 apart: It is just not a labeling regulation, but impacts foods now sold as having “natural” ingredients.
Prop 37 threatens a legal nightmare for California.
Gaming the system
For instance, Prop 37 would ban foods from being labeled or marketed as “natural” if they have been processed in any way – even if they contain no GE ingredients. That includes foods that have been dried, roasted, smoked, pressed, cooked, fermented, milled, frozen or canned. This means that under Prop 37 a raw almond could be marketed as “natural” but the same almond that has merely been salted, roasted or canned, could not. A raw apple could be labeled “naturally grown,” but once that apple is cooked and churned into apple sauce, even if the sole ingredient is apple, the apple sauce would lose the “natural” designation.
It gets even sillier. Prop. 37 requires that food sold in a grocery store have a label, but that same food sold in a restaurant is exempt; food imported from China and other foreign countries are exempt if the sellers simply declare their products are “GE free” – talk about gaming the system and competitively putting our own businessmen and growers at a disadvantage!
Now let’s address the legal nightmare Prop 37 will create. According to the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst, Prop 37 would allow trial lawyers “to sue without needing to demonstrate that any specific damaged occurred as a result of the alleged violation.” This means that law-abiding grocers, farmers, manufacturers and distributors could be sued for products that are labeled properly. They would need to choose between spending tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and tests to demonstrate the product is “GE free,” or settle out of court.
This smacks of the same repercussions that resulted from the passage of California’s Prop 65 a few years back, known as the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.” The measure prohibits the willful dumping of cancer-causing and pregnancy-endangering chemicals, as well as exposing people to such chemicals without notice. Since the law’s inception, Prop 65 has created a cottage industry in windfall lawsuit adjudications, generating more than 16,000 actions against businesses and nearly $500 million in settlements, attorneys fees and costs. About $3 million of those costs have gone to official Prop 37 crusader James Wheaton and his associates.
According to a study released in early September by UC Davis, Prop 37 would result in $1.2 billion in higher costs for farmers and food processors, higher prices for consumers and a crush of costly regulations with no benefits.
“The proposed regulations have no basis in science and impose rules that would have significant costs for food producers, processors and marketers, and ultimately for consumers, while providing misinformation and no demonstrable benefits, write professors Julian Alston and Daniel Sumner, of the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department at Davis.
As I’ve written on this subject before, the long and short of it is that consumers who wish to avoid biotech foods already have the option to buy foods that have been certified organic by the USDA and other third-party entities. The last thing California’s struggling economy needs is an avalanche of shakedown lawsuits hitting businesses. And the last thing consumers and taxpayers need is higher food costs.
Tell your friends to spread the word, Prop 37 should be soundly rejected this November.