Proposition 37: Your Vote. Your Label.

by Brooke on November 6, 2012

Post image for Proposition 37:  Your Vote. Your Label.

Today is Election Day!  So, if you haven’t voted yet…go do it!  Californians are also currently voting on Proposition 37.

What is Proposition 37?

Prop 37 is a genetically engineered food labeling initiative statute.  It is hard to find a reliable list of all foods containing GMOs, but the estimate is that 75-80% of all processed foods have enough genetically modified content to require labels under the Prop 37.  There are so many foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) like:  soy (soybean oil, lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, protein fractions and maybe even vitamin E), corn (starch, whole corn flour or meal, corn oil), and canola oil.  This is a lot of products, but that doesn’t mean GMO containing food is a bad thing!

Prop 37 Breakdown:

  • Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed (modified) in specified ways.
  • Prohibits labeling or advertising such food, or other processed food, as “natural.”
  • Exempts foods that are: certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.

There are a few interesting factors with Prop 37:

  1. Currently, there is no scientific definition for what “natural” means.
  2. There are a lot of exempt foods in this statute.

What are the Pros?

  • You have the right to know what is in your food.
  • Other countries including Europe, Japan, China, and India already require labels for genetically engineered foods.
  • We currently don’t have any long term research on GMOs.

What are the Cons?

  • The US Food and Drug Administration stated that this type of labeling policy is “inherently misleading.”
  • Reliable organizations that base their recommendations on sound scientific evidence like the: National Academy of Sciences, American Council on Science and Health, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, World Health Organization, and American Medical Association have all concluded that GMOs are safe for consumption.
  • There are questions as to who is going to monitor these regulations.
  • Many foods are exempted from Prop 37.

Bottom line: 

Will Prop 37 change food patterns of who buys what?  Maybe  not. 

Is it the consumers’ right to have all the information on the label?  Yes.  

Another question raised during the Prop 37 debate was if consumers were informed enough about the risks/non-risks of GMOs and what the definition of a GMO even means to properly use the information provided by this label.  That concern is irrelevant, because it is still the right of Californians to vote on what they want to read or not read on a label.  It is their right to ask for food companies to be transparent about the ingredients used in their food products.

Your Vote. Your Label.


Proposition 37: Official Voter Information Guide

20 questions on genetically modified foods – WHO


(Photo Source)


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