Genetically modified foods-labeling bill rejected in California, advocates vow to carry on

Genetically modified foods-labeling bill rejected in California, advocates vow to carry on

San Francisco : CA : USA | Nov 08, 2012 at 1:52 PM PST
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A sign supporting Proposition 37 which calls for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in California

Genetically modified (GM) food, or “Franken-Food,” as it is called, has often had a bad rap, with advocates on both sides trying to either get the food banned or approved and while there seem to be no absolute rulings in this regard, campaigners have sought to stymie the sale of GM foods, particularly so in a recent case that was put before the state of California.

The new bill, referred to as Proposition 37, if passed, would have required by law, for all genetically modified food to be labeled, making California the first state to do so. However, after ballot vote that saw almost 4.3 million votes cast, the proposition itself was rejected with advocates of it vowing to take up the fight on the state and federal level.

In votes cast on Tuesday, 53.1 percent of the voters rejected the bill to a close 46.9 percent, although a couple of months before, support for the proposition was at a significant 60 percent, but negative advertising, on the part of food and biotech companies, was cited as whittling this percentage down, so much so that the bill was rejected.

However, advocates for the proposition, such as advocacy group Food Democracy Now! have vowed to take up the issue on a wider platform with co-chairman of the Proposition 37 campaign and executive director, Dave Murphy, saying that the four million Californians who had voted were “on record believing we have a right to know what is in our food,” adding, “We fundamentally believe this is a dynamic moment for the food movement and we’re going forward.”

Proposition 37 was considered particularly important, as it had national ramifications, as if California had approved of it, it may have led to other states following suite. But getting the bill passed was an uphill task from the get go, as the food and biotech industry was ready to put up a fight, amassing a substantial $46 million to put the proposition down, while those for it only had a kitty of some $9.2 million. And of course the money did all the talking.

Backers of the proposition felt that it was essential to have the labeling made mandatory by law, as they felt it was the consumer’s right to know just what was going into their food, especially if there was any associated health risks. The food industry, on the other hand, felt this alarmist and cited the fact that GM food in itself was not harmful and while not attacking the notion of labeling, still felt the idea in itself could lead to further problems.

Food Democracy Now! has said that it will start to bring the proposition to Washington state and will do this next year, already gathering signatures in support.

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Genetically modified foods-labeling bill rejected in California, advocates vow to carry on
A rally in San Francisco in support of California's upcoming Proposition 37 ballot measure on GM food labelling, 6 October 2012. (Image: Reuters/Stephen Lam)
arkar is based in Seattle, Washington, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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