California newspapers encourage ‘No’ vote on Prop. 37

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On Nov. 6, California voters will decide whether to require some foods produced through the use of genetic engineering and sold within the state to carry a special label designation. Both proponents and opponents see it as a stepping stone to eventual broader labeling for genetically modified (GMO) applications in food production.

Last week, California’s largest daily newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, endorsed a “no” vote on the issue, calling the proposed law “problematic on a number of levels.” This past weekend, 34 daily newspapers from around the state came out with a similar message, encouraging Californians to vote “no” on Prop. 37. This has a majority of daily newspapers from across California opposing the proposition.

Most presented weekend editorials on the issue, most of which can be found here.

Specifically, the San Jose Mercury News, called out the following points:

  • "Proposition 37 should never have been placed on the ballot this fall."
  • "...there are real problems with this particular law."
  • "A badly drafted law with good intentions is still a bad law."

In its editorial, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, outlined these points:

  • "Clearly, this provision would create even more lawsuits. And who would this benefit? Lawyers."
  • "...this sloppily written measure is not the answer."
  • "...Prop. 37 could add to food costs for consumers, hurt small businesses and create yet another avenue for costly litigation."

That’s not to say that there aren’t some doubts about genetically engineered foods. The LA Times, argues that America “rushed headlong into producing (GM food) with lax federal oversight, and although many studies have been conducted over the last couple of decades, a 2009 editorial in Scientific American complained that too much of the research has been controlled by the companies that create the engineered products.”

But specific to the labeling requirement, the points out, “most of the burden for ensuring foods are properly labeled would fall not on producers but on retailers, which would have to get written statements from their suppliers verifying that there were no bioengineered ingredients – a paperwork mandate that could make it hard for mom-and-pop groceries to stay in business. Enforcement would largely occur through lawsuits brought by members of the public who suspect grocers of selling unlabeled food, a messy and potentially expensive way to bring about compliance.”

But the most important reason to reject Prop 37, according to the LA Times, is that there is “no rationale for singling out genetic engineering” as the agricultural practice for which labeling should be required. “So far,” the editor’s wrote, “there is little if any evidence that changing a plant’s or animal’s genes through bioengineering, rather than through selective breeding, is dangerous to the people who consume it. In fact, some foods have been engineered specifically to remove allergens from the original version.”

To be clear, not all foods are included in Prop. 37, there are exemptions for milk, restaurant food and some other products.

The ballot initiative also has garnered widespread attention because of the huge sums of money spent on advertising by both sides of the issue. In mid-September it was estimated that the two sides had already amassed more than $30 million to sway voters.

Prop 37 is opposed by a broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, business, labor, taxpayers and consumers. More information is available here


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michael    
kansas  |  October, 10, 2012 at 10:51 AM

I beg to differ with our industry's opposition to this bill. We should heartily encourage and support it. The consequences to California consumers and the State's economy in general, will be far more damaging than they will be to food producers and processors in the short-term. Due to the high costs associated, smaller companies will stop selling to California completely and larger interests will be forced to dramatically increase their prices to California purchasers. The average California consumer, lulled into complacency by the fantasy-factory's of eco-freaks PR departments, will receive a truly rude awakening when the organic, cage-free, non-gmo fed chickens come home to roost. Really, it's a Learning Opportunity they shouldn't be denied. And it will give the rest of the nation something to think about too. When Gov. Moonbeam's subjects wake-up to find that, in addition to $6/gal gas, they now have $6/dozen eggs, $6/loaf bread and $6/lb cheese; we'll be seeing an even greater exodus of the best and brightest to Utah, ND, Texas and other states that have a firmer grip on reality. It's a good thing!

Emily    
October, 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I don't know what all the fuss is about. It was the same argument about molecular biology back in the 1970's. The argument against it lost, and since then because of molecular biology we have had MAJOR advances in scientific research. Same thing with the engineered food. IT"S THE SAME FOOD WE'VE BEEN EATING FOREVER. Only the techniques for producing it are much improved, and, therefore, it will be cheaper in the long run.

Emily    
October, 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I don't know what all the fuss is about. It was the same argument about molecular biology back in the 1970's. The argument against it lost, and since then because of molecular biology we have had MAJOR advances in scientific research. Same thing with the engineered food. IT"S THE SAME FOOD WE'VE BEEN EATING FOREVER. Only the techniques for producing it are much improved, and, therefore, it will be cheaper in the long run.

Elizabeth Conley    
October, 11, 2012 at 03:36 AM

I find these disingenuous editorials and slyly slanted articles produced by California's papers deeply revealing. It shows how far journalism has fallen in the U.S. Go ahead kiddies, keep on lying. Just remember, Americans aren't nearly as ignorant and stupid as you want to think we are. You are going to lose every last shred of credibility you have with these dishonorable tactics. We know other Europe, Japan, China and many other countries already have GMO food labeling, andhastasnt raised their food prices. Those of us who travel are also keenly aware of how much better the food quality is where consumers are informed. Americans eat garbage, and the FDA is complicit in this unhealthy trend. What's wrong with you journalists? Have you no shame?


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