Our View: Genetically engineered food doesn’t need labels in California

Staff

Of the many propositions on this year’s California ballot, Proposition 37 has been getting a lot of play.

A “yes” vote on Prop. 37 would require most foods containing genetically engineered  ingredients be marked as such on the front package or label of the food.

A “no” vote would keep the rules as they are, and foods that contain genetically modified ingredients would not have to declare themselves as so.

We at the Daily 49er have chosen to not endorse Prop. 37. There was some disagreement on the editorial board, but a majority supported keeping things the way they are – that is, no labels on our delicious food.

There are a few reasons why we have chosen this stance.

First, Prop. 37 unfairly targets the genetically engineered food industry. These days, more people are concerned with what goes into their bodies and rightfully so.

However, if people want to have their genetically engineered food labeled, then why would they not want labels on food that has been treated with hormones, steroids or antibiotics? How about labels on their meats that label that this chicken was raised inhumanely and was forced to live in close quarters with other beakless chickens so they do not peck each other to death? How about labels on food that explain which pesticides were used to keep bugs and weeds from ruining the crop?

These are better labels to be concerned with, not just those on food containing genetically engineered ingredients. A lot of ingredients are genetically modified, created to remove allergens that affect humans. In some sense, genetically engineered ingredients are in our own interest. People should not be so afraid of a Frankenstein tomato; it was scientifically made this way to benefit us.

Genetically engineered ingredients also keeps costs down at the grocery store. If you do want to keep buying everything organic, just know you will be paying more for something that is not much different.

Another big problem is that the law puts most of the labeling duties on the supermarkets, not the manufacturers. This means that grocery stores much check with every food manufacturer to make sure none of the food on their shelves contains anything genetically engineered.

In sue-happy America, someone who may get sick because of common food poisoning may look for ways to sue grocery stores if they suspect that their food was mislabeled. Prop. 37 creates that weakness in the system.

It is not that we do no believe we should know what is in our food. We just think that Prop. 37 does not fix the major problems. If people want their food labeled, then California should make sure everything is labeled – not just genetically engineered foods.

For a complete list of the Daily 49er’s views on the propositions, visit daily49er.com/endorsements.

 

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