IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Ventura County Star Says No on Prop. 37 “Food labeling law leaves a bad taste”

September 14, 2012

SACRAMENTO – The Ventura County Star today said NO to Prop. 37, calling it a “good example of something that doesn’t belong on the ballot.” The overwhelming majority of daily newspapers that have taken a position on Prop 37 thus far are recommending “NO” votes.

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Proposition 37 would ban the sale of tens of thousands of perfectly-safe, common grocery products only in California unless they are specially repackaged, relabeled or made with higher cost ingredients. Prop 37 is a deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme that would add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs, create new frivolous lawsuits, and increase food costs by billions — without providing any health or safety benefits.

More from the Ventura County Star:

Ventura County Star, Editorial, September 14, 2012

Editorial: Food labeling law leaves a bad taste; No on Prop. 37

Proposition 37 is a good example of something that doesn’t belong on the ballot. It asks voters to pass a state law about labeling foods with ingredients from genetically modified crops.

Let’s get real: Only a relative handful of voters are in a position to make an informed decision on such a complicated, technical subject. For that reason and more, The Star recommends voting no on Proposition 37 in the Nov. 6 election.

A national agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is responsible for making sure that foods are safe and properly labeled. It would make far more sense for that agency, or lawmakers at the federal or state levels, to deal with the issue.

Genetically engineered crops are ones in which the DNA has been modified for a specific purpose, such as to make them more resistant to pesticides. Many, if not most, of the food products sold in grocery stores contain some genetically engineered ingredients.

If consumers want to know whether they’re buying food with genetically modified ingredients, the marketplace can respond with voluntary labeling.

Proposition 37, however, would make such labeling mandatory. The California Department of Health would have to regulate it and carry out inspections to verify whether the law is being followed — at a cost possibly exceeding $1 million a year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. That would be an unwise expense when California has reduced funding for K-12 classrooms, colleges, health programs and services for the elderly, poor and infirm.

Also, Proposition 37 would let individuals file lawsuits for violations of the labeling requirements, without having to prove any specific damage occurred. To protect themselves, food companies could simply label all of their products: “May be partially produced with genetic engineering.” And if such a notice were to appear on the vast majority of foods, consumers would gain very little.

Supporters of Proposition 37 claim it would give consumers more information about what they eat and would foster transparency and trust in the food system. We think they’re mistaken on both counts. Such a law would create mistrust and confusion about the foods that Californians eat.

The Star recommends a no vote on Proposition 37.