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Some in the So-Called "Natural" Food Industry Want to Keep You in the Dark About GMOs

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, and our California News page.
Regardless of how you feel about GMOs, California's ballot initiative is a bad idea. An enforcement provision buried within the law would bring a windfall to trial lawyers and hurt natural products manufacturers while doing nothing to improve the health of consumers.

There has been a great hubbub recently about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The Just Label It campaign has submitted a massive petition on the subject to FDA. The move toward requiring GMO ingredients to be called out on labels has garnered some powerful support in the natural products business.

But there is one initiative in this campaign that manufacturers in the natural products business cannot get behind.  The story is unfolding in California, where a group called the Committee for the Right to Know is pushing a ballot initiative.  As with that state's Proposition 65, which has been on the books since 1986, the intent might be good, but the devil is in the details.

California law allows voters to put laws directly on the books via initiative. (Other states, like Colorado, attach such initiatives as amendments to the state constitution.) Here's the catch: Unlike laws that go through the legislature, where they are debated, and there is an opportunity for their weaknesses or omissions to be identified and (one hopes) fixed, the California initiative process is an all-or-nothing deal.  Once the language of the proposed law is finalized and the petition process begins, that language can't be changed.  How would voters know what they are signing up for otherwise? So even while the backers of this initiative say they are open to compromise, it seems functionally impossible.


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