There’s an interesting debate swirling around the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative in California. If approved, the initiative will “require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.” It will also prohibit the labeling of such food as “natural.” Some think that mandatory labeling will increase food prices and is unnecessary while other consumers declare the right to know exactly what’s in their food.
The most compelling arguments against the initiative are redundancy and cost. Consumers wishing to avoid genetically engineered food can avoid them by buying food that is certified as organic and labeled as such. Critics of the initiative feel redundant labeling isn’t worth the cost to consumers. A UC Davis study revealed that if Prop 37 passes it will cost farmers and food processors over $1 billion dollars.
Supporters of the initiative believe that consumers should be given as much information as possible when making decisions that could impact their health. Prop 37 isn’t trying to stop the production of genetically engineered food, it’s simply seeking to make sure information is available to consumers who want it. They also counter the cost argument by citing that food companies regularly re-print labels so it won’t affect food prices in the long term.
I don’t live in California, but if I did I would vote in favor of Prop 37. I prefer food that isn’t genetically modified and feel strongly that I have the right to know what I’m putting into my body. I don’t have a problem with other people opting to buy and consume whatever food they choose, but it seems unfair not to give shoppers as much information as possible. And while I am sympathetic to the increased cost, I think greater information for consumers to make healthier choices for themselves is worth a small increase in food prices.
What do you think about this issue? Would you vote yes or no on Prop 37?