Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny rejected arguments made by the Yes on 37 campaign seeking to strike language from the official Prop. 37 Ballot Label, Title & Summary and Legislative Analysts’ (LAO) Analysis concluding that Prop 37 could prohibit processed foods without genetically engineered (GE) ingredients from being marketed or labeled as “natural”.

Yes on 37 argued that Prop. 37’s provisions restricting the use of the word “natural” apply only to processed foods with GE ingredients. 

The ruling is a blow to the Yes on 37 campaign. It means that the State Attorney General, independent Legislative Analyst, and now the courts all disagree with Yes on 37’s interpretation of the measure.

(For more, see: Prop 37 may restrict all processed food)

In final ballot materials made public last month, the Attorney General’s official Ballot Label and Title & Summary, as well as the LAO Analysis, each included reference that Prop. 37 could be interpreted by the courts as a ban on processed foods without GE from using “natural” in their labeling. This position is consistent with No on 37’s reading of the flawed ballot measure which can be found here.

Judge Kenny completely rejected Yes on 37’s requested changes to the Prop. 37 Ballot Label and Title & Summary. Both remain unchanged and can be found here.

(For more, see: California's Prop. 37 will open litigation floodgates)

While Judge Kenny did order a small change to the LAO write up of Prop. 37, the language still will highlight Prop 37’s restriction on marketing non-GE processed foods as natural. The revised LAO section on the “natural” provision reads like this:

“Given the way the measure is written, there is a possibility that these restrictions would be interpreted by the courts to apply to some processed foods regardless of whether they are genetically engineered.”

“The inability to market our non-GE processed products as natural could harm family farmers and our competitiveness,” said Jamie Johansson, an Oroville farmer who grows olives to make olive oil. Mr. Johansson is also second vice president of the California Farm Bureau Federation “This is a serious flaw in Prop. 37. And the court’s ruling means state ballot materials will remain accurate and truthful.”

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

About Prop. 37

Proposition 37 would ban the sale of tens of thousands of perfectly-safe, common grocery products only in California unless they are specially repackaged, relabeled or made with higher cost ingredients. Prop 37 is a deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme that would add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs, create new frivolous lawsuits, and increase food costs by billions — without providing any health or safety benefits. That’s why Prop 37 is opposed by a broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, business, labor, taxpayers and consumers.