Mad Props: What to Know Before You Vote About… Prop 37


What It’s All About: Prop 37 requires proper labeling for most genetically engineered foods. What’s exempt: Alcohol and foods that are either certified organic, unintentionally produced with genetically engineered materials (but not genetically engineered themselves), from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material, processed with or containing small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients, or sold for immediate consumption. The prop requires the Department of Public Health to regulate the labeling of foods that qualify and allows individuals to sue manufacturers over how food is labeled.

What It’s Going To Cost: Regulation could run the DPH anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million per year in administrative costs. Due to the suing clause of the measure, litigation costs could potentially increase as well.

Supporters: Organic Consumers’ Association, Nature’s Path, The Institute for Responsible Technology, and The California Democratic Party

Why People Are For It: People have a right to know what’s in their food. Over 40 other countries already require labels for GE foods, so some American companies are already labeling their products for foreign consumers. If it passes, Prop 37 will become law over a period of time, giving manufacturers a chance to reprint their current labels or alter their products. Because some of the companies against the measure fought to keep other information, such as calories and fat content, off food labels in the past, advocates argue this is a consumer rights and public health issue.

“Proposition 37 establishes a core principle of transparency—let the consumer know and decide—which labeling certainly provides.” – Robert Gottlieb, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College

Opponents: Monsanto, Pepsico Inc., General Mills, National Academy of Sciences member Dr. Bob Goldberg, family farmer Jamie Johansson, California Small Business Association president Betty Jo Toccoli, and The California Republican Party

Why People Are Against: Opponents claim Prop 37 would raise taxpayer costs without providing any health or safety benefits (The World Health Organization has suggested that biotech foods do not pose health risks, but testing is ongoing). Opponents also argue the prop is biased, as it exempts approximately two-thirds of the products Californians consume, including beer, wine, milk, cheese, and more—many of which are produced by corporations backing the prop—and because foreign manufacturers could get away with labeling their products “GE Free” even when they are not. In addition, the measure exposes farmers by allowing lawyers to sue them and food companies without proof of violation or damages.

“Prop. 37’s arbitrary regulations and exemptions would benefit certain special interests, but not consumers.” –Dr. Christine Bruhn, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis

The Takeaway: Prop 37 will enforce modest standards of food labeling and transparency, but labeling GMO foods doesn’t mean they’re dangerous to your health.

ALSO: Read Mad Props: What to know Before You Vote About… Prop 33

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  • Kathleen

    In an age when farmers are feeding arsenic to chickens, I am amazed that people oppose Prop 37. For those who do, I invite you to eat a conventional tortilla chip. The GMO corn that was used to make the chip was doused in the herbicide Roundup. The GMO soy, corn, canola, or cottonseed oil that it was fried in was also soaked in Roundup and the oil was extracted using the toxin hexane. Would you spray a corn chip with Raid and then feed it to your family? Never, but I bet that you don’t think twice about feeding them a conventional (aka GMO) corn chip. I have studied the GMO issue very carefully. In fact, I eat 100% organic now to avoid insecticides, herbicides, GMOs, and hexane-extracted oils. In addition to GMO labeling, I sincerely hope that it will soon be mandated that food manufacturers must list everything toxic that is sprayed on crops or fed to animals. If you feed chickens arsenic, that is an ingredient. It should be listed. If you saturate your soy with Roundup, that’s an ingredient. List it. People value their health and they want to know what is in their food. Prop 37 should pass.

    • sue


      Too few consumers understand the unique relationship Monsanto chemical corporation has with the GMO technique.

      1)Monsanto developed a potent weed killer trade named RoundUp over 40 years ago. It’s an endocrine (hormone) system interruptor. It works by making a plant grow so fast, the cells burst and the plant dies. This weedlkiller was used in Agent Orange in Vietnam, to denude the countryside .

      2) Monsanto has genetically modified food crop seed by artificially inserting foreign genetic codes (DNA) from one species into another. This is NOT the same as naturally occuring inter-species hybrids caused by pollen transfers. Wheat, Corn, alfalfa, soy, canola, sugar beets are some of the main GMO crops–derivitive products from these are used in over 50% of all food on grocery shelves.

      3) Monsanto has Genetically Modifed these food crop seeds to withstand multiple applications of RoundUp herbicideduring the growth cycle. Roundup is used on fields of GM’d crops to kill weeds, while the food crop is left uninjured.

      So there is an intertwined relationship between genetically modified seed and RoundUp; both are huge money makers for Monsanto. Farmers mus tfirst buy the GMO seed, then buy the RoundUP. (Monsanto markets the GMO seed as “RoundUp Ready” (trademark). Farmers have to sign a contract when they buy GMO seed–they may not save seed from year to year.

      Unfortunately the pollen from these RR crops can and does drift on wind currents from one field to another. It can be transferred up to a mile or more, so pollen from GMO plantings can contaminate fields of conventional non GMO crops. In which case, the farmers of the accidentally contaminated fields must pay Monsanto a huge fine for growing GMO crops without purchasing GMO seed! In some cases Monsanto has sued and farmers have lost everything.

      Monsanto has been buying up the country’s leading seed producing companies in order to have a monopoly on the food crop seed market. They hope to be the ONLY source for quantity food crop seed in the future. This means many more gentically crops being used in food products contaminated with RoundUp.

      For more information about side effects of RoundUp Ready (trademark) food crops google ‘Mercola youtube-Dr Huber’. Dr Huber is a soil scientist and professor from Purdue Univ. who’s been studying the buildup of RoundUp in soils and food crops. It isn’t encouraging information.