OCBC Opposes Prop 37 Food Label Deception

Orange County  Business Council’s Board of Directors voted to take an OPPOSE position on Prop. 37, the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered (GE) Food Initiative. This measure would ban the sale of tens of thousands of common and safe grocery products that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, unless they are repackaged, relabeled, or made using non-GE ingredients just for sale in California. The measure creates a private right to sue, allowing any private individual to sue a grocer, manufacturer, food company or farmer if they believe the labeling provisions have been violated. The measure takes special consideration to exempt those foods most people eat every day, including meat, eggs, dairy, alcohol, and foods sold in restaurants.

This proposition would force California farmers, food producers and grocers to implement new recordkeeping and labeling mandates that no other state or country requires.

Businesses that distribute products throughout the United States would either be forced to overhaul their nationwide labeling process, or create a separate process for those products entering California. These unnecessary and additional labeling requirements will put California businesses at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Beyond the expense to business, the labeling measure doesn’t have the food safety focus it purports to. Prop 37 prevents any product from being labeled as “natural” if it is processed–including canning, smoking, pressing, cooking, freezing, dehydration, fermentation, or milling. Meaning, organic apples would stay natural, while organic apple sauce made from nothing beyond those organic apples could not. Raw almonds could remain natural, while those that have been salted and canned could not.

Overwhelmingly, scientists, medical experts and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have all concluded that genetically engineered food products are safe and that requiring special labels for them is unnecessary and could be misleading to consumers.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office has concluded the proposition will cost state government millions of dollars in enforcement and the cost to family farmers, food companies, grocers and consumers will be hundreds of millions in higher costs.

For more information contact Kate Klimow, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs.

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