I don’t always think to myself, “Boy, Illinois got that right” when it comes to politics and policy. But, every time I think of California and their crazy propositions, that phrase crosses my mind.
I can’t imagine having to cast my vote for umpteen propositions every time I went to the polls. And, I can’t really imagine living in a state where anyone with enough petition signatures can add something to the ballot.
It’s all very ‘By the People,’ but it still seems a little…off-putting.
It’s off-putting in the same kind of way Proposition 37 is off-putting. See what I did there?
Prop 37, which would require most food sold in California and produced with genetic engineering to be labeled as such, is on the November ballot. And, until recently, it had garnered quite a bit of support.
That is until many of the state’s papers took a closer look at the proposition and urged readers to vote against it.
One the surface, it seems downright logical. After all, don’t people have the right to know if there are GMOs in their food?
The simple answer might be yes, but nothing about Prop 37 is simple.
After a closer look, Prop 37 could open the floodgates for more litigation and lawsuits, allowing lawyers to sue family farmers, food companies and grocers without any proof of harm. In other words, the law would ultimately be enforced by lawsuits filed by members of the public who suspect grocers of selling unlabeled food. Not only is it a messy way to work toward compliance, but it brings the cost back home to consumers and tax payers.
And that’s not the only sticking point. In addition to a potential flood of new lawsuits, Prop 37 isn’t even based in science — a point on which the LA Times leaned heavily in its editorial urging readers to vote against the proposition. In fact, the LA Times labeled the proposition “sloppily written” and “problematic on a number of levels.”
Biotechnology has been used for nearly 25 years to grow varieties of corn, soybeans and other crops so that they will more easily resist diseases and insects and require fewer pesticides (which seems like a win-win-win to me). Thousands of common foods are made with GM crops and respected scientific and medical organizations throughout the world have concluded that foods containing GM crops are safe.
Additionally, Prop 37 would require state officials to monitor the tens of thousands of food labels at grocery stores, retail outlets and farms across the state. While that might seem fair, what isn’t fair is the fact that there is no limit on how many millions of dollars would be spent on administration costs, meaning there’s no limit to how much it would cost state tax payers.
Finally, and probably most importantly when it comes to consumers, Prop 37 could mean higher prices in the grocery store. By forcing farmers and food companies to implement all the all the necessary details to bring about labeling, including new packaging, distribution and record keeping or a switch to higher-priced organics, consumers will be forced to pay more at the check out.
In fact, economic studies show this would increase food costs for an average California family by hundreds of dollars per year.
So, what’s the big deal? If you aren’t reading this blog from your couch in California, it doesn’t really matter, right?
Wrong. It doesn’t take a genius to see that if this passes in California, it could easily come to pass in other states — or even federally — at some point in time.
And, if you don’t want to take my word for it, that’s fine. Perhaps, you want to hear the facts from someone who is a little more learned when it comes to GMOs? That’s fair.
Take a look at this letter by Dr. Bruce Chassy, a professor emeritus of food science at the University of Illinois.
Dr. Chassy was asked to be a part of a Dr. Oz show discussing GMOs in food. After the show had wrapped, Dr. Chassy had a few zingers for Dr. Oz (which, let’s be honest, I love) and threw in some good old-fashioned SCIENCE to back up his claims. And, hey, I believe him. After all, he is a former professor of food science.