Reuters: Controversial GMO Measure May Be Killed By Big Food

This article is more than 8 years old.

A controversial question on the California ballot may have a major impact on the foods you eat — no matter what state you live in. The question, known as Proposition 37, is whether labeling should be required on foods that have been genetically modified.

(Timothy Valentine/flickr)
(Timothy Valentine/flickr)

Major food and seed companies appear to be on the verge of defeating a California ballot initiative that, if passed on Tuesday, would create the first labeling requirement for genetically modified foods in the United States.

In a campaign reminiscent of this summer's successful fight against a proposed tobacco tax in California, opposition funded by Monsanto Co, DuPont, PepsiCo Inc and others unleashed waves of TV and radio advertisements against Proposition 37 and managed to turn the tide of public opinion.

Four weeks ago, the labeling initiative was supported by more than two-thirds of Californians who said they intended to vote on November 6, according to a poll from the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy. On Tuesday, their latest poll showed support had plummeted to 39 percent, while opposition had surged to almost 51 percent....

Backers of the labeling initiative say consumers have the right to know what is in the food they eat. They dispute opponents' cost projections and say labeling would not be burdensome to families or businesses.

They could still prevail on Tuesday if the polling turns out to be wrong, or if a last minute push by grassroots supporters takes root.

Many processed foods sold in the United States are made at least in part with corn, soybeans or other crops that have been genetically modified - crossed with DNA from other species to do things like make them resistant to insects or weed killer...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined labels are not needed for GM crops that are "substantially equivalent" to non-GM crops. The United States does not require labeling or mandatory independent pre-market safety testing for GMOs. At least three dozen countries require labeling and mandatory pre-market safety testing, said Michael Hansen, senior scientist from watchdog group Consumer Reports.

This program aired on November 6, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.