Although the biggest issue on the ballot this election was the question of the next president, many environmentally-minded Americans eagerly awaited the results of California’s Proposition 37. Dubbed the “Right to Know” act, the proposed legislation would require that certain genetically modified foods be labeled as such. While many hoped that Proposition 37 would open the doors to GMO labeling throughout America, it was defeated by a margin of approximately six points.
Supporters of the proposition claim that Californians have an appetite for more information about the ingredients in food products, stating that consumers should be given all of the information available about GMOs and allowed to make the ultimate decision about their diet. Opponents worried that labeling would essentially act as a warning label to consumers and would contribute to an increase in food costs.
Kathy Fairbanks, a representative for The Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition, a group opposing the measure, stated: “We’ve said from the beginning of this campaign that the more voters learned about Prop 37, the less they’d like it. We didn’t think they’d like the lawsuits, more bureaucracy, higher costs and loopholes and exemptions. It looks like they don’t.” Opponents raised over 46 million dollars to campaign against labeling and help sway public opinion.
The proposition would have covered processed and whole foods, but excluded organic foods, meat, dairy and restaurant foods. Several other states had propositions for GMO labeling, all of which were defeated. Mandatory labeling is required in many areas in the world, including the European Union.