Election 2012: Food Labeling Blocked

Genetically altered food labeling proposal voted down in California

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Voters in conservative counties defeated a measure in California to mandate labeling of food that had been genetically altered, with 53% against and 47% in favor.

The measure, Proposition 37, showed support among liberal counties along the California coast, but did not receive the same support further inland. Voters in Santa Cruz County were its biggest supporters at 65.6%, while in Fresno County, 63.6% voted no while 36.4% voted yes.

"Common sense prevails for an unusual situation in California," said Jay McKeeman, vice president of government relations and communications for the California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA).

"We were quite pleased the voters understood that this was a sheep in wolf's clothing. It seemed like a simplistic food-labeling requirement, but the real problem was basically trial attorneys were the enforcement," he added.

He said retailers would have been responsible for knowing if any of the products they sold were genetically modified. "So a trail attorney could send people around to your store and if they found a product not labeled, they could sue you," McKeeman said. "It would have been legalized extortion, forcing retailers to go into settlements to avoid litigation."

The Grocery Manufacturers Association released a statement: "GMA and its member companies are pleased that California voters have rejected Proposition 37. [It] was a deeply flawed measure that would have resulted in higher food costs, frivolous lawsuits and increased state bureaucracies. This is a big win for California consumers, taxpayers, businesses and farmers. Foods and beverages that contain genetically engineered ingredients have been exhaustively studied and all of the leading scientific and regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, have concluded that these products are safe and are not materially different than their traditional counterparts.”

"This is a story about money," Stacy Malkan, media director of the Proposition 37 campaign, told The San Jose Mercury News. "Our loss had to do with being outspent. We didn't have the funds to compete on the air in the central regions of the states."

(See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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