Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Lawsuits loom if Prop 37 passes, say opponents of labeling genetically modified foods
Yesterday, we featured information on a series of lectures presented by supporters of Proposition 37, which would require the labeling of genetically modified foods sold in the state, with a host of exceptions.
Today, the anti-37 crowd weighs in. They say that Prop 37 “will unnecessarily raise food costs, hurt small businesses and farmers, create frivolous lawsuits, and saddle California with more bureaucracy and red tape.”
Opponents of the measure receive “major funding” from the Monsanto Company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
The argument pushed heavily by the “no” forces in a release earlier this month focuses on the potential for lawsuits against corporations for real or perceived violations of the law, were it to be implemented.
For evidence they point to Prop 65, the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.” The statue prohibits the willful dumping of cancer-causing and pregnancy-endangering chemicals, as well as exposing people to such chemicals without notice. Since the law’s inception, 37 foes say, it “has generated more than 16,000 actions against businesses and nearly $500 million in settlements, attorneys fees and costs.” About $3 million of those costs have gone to official Prop 37 proponent James Wheaton and his associates.
Opponents additionally argue that it’s unfair that it’s unfair to require the labeling of products that use “modern varieties” of corn, soybeans, and other crops, or to prohibit foods that have been processed by pasteurization, heating, or drying from being advertised as “natural.”
They also feel the burden of proof to determine whether or not a product contains “bio-engineered” food (the term preferred over “genetically modified” by users of the technology) should lie on a consumer looking to file a lawsuit, rather than the producer of said product.
Finally, opponents point out that no other state in the U.S. has yet implemented similar requirements, although over 50 countries worldwide (including the entire European Union) have such measures on the books.