Controversial food-labeling proposition defeated in California

California pet owners who wanted more transparency in pet food labeling were left disappointed on Election Day.

California’s Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Modified Food Act, was defeated by voters. The proposition would have required special labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.

Votes were still being counted the morning after the election, but numbers released as of noon on Nov. 7 showed that the proposition was trailing by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, California would have been the first state to adopt a measure like this.

The contentious proposed rule pitted pet owners who were clamoring for food label transparency against an opposition that included many food manufacturers and biotech companies who argued that the proposition was “flawed” and “misguided.”

The proposition was supported by individuals and groups who felt that people should be able to know exactly what is in their foods and their pets' foods. They wanted obvious labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients such as corn, in part because of the school of thought that attributes genetically modified organisms (GMO) with health risks including digestive problems and organ damage.

Proposition 37 was heavily opposed by companies that claimed their genetically modified foods, which they say have been proven to be safe, would be “stigmatized” by the special labeling, the Chronicle said.

Opponents also speculated that the costs manufacturers would have to pay for re-labeling foods or switching to foods without GMO ingredients would eventually be passed down to consumers.

Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson from a large group of opponents called No on Prop 37, told the Chronicle, "We said from the beginning that the more voters learned about Prop. 37, the less they would like it. We didn't think they would like the lawsuits, more bureaucracy, higher costs, loopholes, and exemptions. It looks like they don't."

Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle

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