Editorial: Prop. 37 no way to address an important issue

September 29, 2012
U-T San Diego

Should genetically modified food be labeled and face more thorough regulation? That is a completely valid question, one that should be the focus of congressional hearings and possible federal legislation.

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It is not, however, an issue that should be addressed via a weakly crafted state ballot proposition whose leading donor appears to stand to gain from its passage. We refer, of course, to Proposition 37. Its biggest backer is businessman Joseph Mercola, who runs the “world’s No. 1 natural health website.” Mercola doesn’t just sell a wide range of organic products. He is also a critic of child vaccinations, mammograms and other fundamental tools of medical science.

But Mercola’s key role in advocating the measure is not the prime reason to oppose it. Instead, we agree with the persuasive argument made by Tyler Cowen, the George Mason University economist and New York Times columnist: Proposition 37 “is full of bad ideas and questionable distinctions” and places such a burden on small farmers and retailers that it could kill them off. Cowen also believes, as we do, that the measure has some hard-to-fathom loopholes and could spawn a wave of costly lawsuits.

Proposition 37 may have some value in bringing attention to genetically modified foods and the somewhat laissez faire way with which the U.S. government has monitored their arrival in grocery stores. But it is not good legislation, and we urge its rejection.

Read the full article here.