The Mission District is known for its food, from the fruit sold at corner stands to the fancy dinner plates served up in the neighborhood’s top-shelf restaurants. As a state, California grows half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables the country eats.
If the Midwest is the bread basket, California is the fruit bowl, and come Nov. 6, it might also be the first state to require labeling on food products that contain genetically modified ingredients.
California’s Proposition 37 would require that labels on certain types of raw and processed foods that have genetically modified ingredients include warnings like “Genetically Engineered,” “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “May Be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.” What’s more, the oft-debated “natural” claim on some food products would be banned in the state.
The debate on both sides has been fierce. The opposition has bought ad space on TV to claim, most prevalently, that Prop. 37 would boost food costs to unaffordable heights. Proponents say that consumers have the right to know what they’re eating; opponents say the proposition will create unnecessary bureaucracy and cause frivolous lawsuits.
The bill’s language includes this statement:
Polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of the public want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering.
One part of the proposition that has received less scrutiny is the provision that would limit the use of the word “natural” or terms such as “naturally made” and “all natural.” The Food and Drug Administration does not have a legal definition of the word, and its use is largely unregulated.
The impartial Legislative Analyst’s Office says there’s a possibility that restrictions “would be interpreted by the courts to apply to some processed foods regardless of whether they are genetically engineered.”
Mission Local took the controversial bill to the streets and asked, What do you know about Prop. 37?
For more information about the proposition, check out this infographic created by our friends across the Bay at Oakland North.