Stacy Malkan of California Right to Know 2012 recently sent us a fact sheet to address some of the questions about Proposition 37. That ballot initiative would require food companies to label foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) or genetically engineered foods (GE).
While No on 37 has stated that the American Medical Association has said GE foods are safe, they do not mention that both the AMA and the World Health Organization has said mandatory safety studies on these foods should be required. The U.S. government does not require any safety studies for GE foods, and no long-term human health studies have ever been conducted on these products.
According to WHO, there are three main issues with GE foods: “tendencies to provoke allergic reaction (allergenicity), gene transfer, and outcrossing.” In fact, WHO is concerned about the possibility of the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from GMO foods to humans. And WHO does say that GMO foods have passed “risk assessments”, and are “not likely to present risks for human health.” The WHO statement mentions that “post market monitoring” should be used to evaluate the safety of GE foods.
One of the No on 37 claims is that Prop 37 will raise the cost of groceries by hundreds of dollars a year. A study done on the economic impact of Prop 37 at Emory University School of Law concluded that “Consumers will likely see no increases in prices as a result of the relabeling required.” As to whether Prop 37 will generate lots of “frivolous” lawsuits, James C. Cooper at George Mason University of Law compared the costs of California Prop 65, which forced companies to provide warnings to consumers if their products exposed them to chemicals that may harm them, to Prop 37. He found that Proposition 37 will be unlikely to result in frivolous lawsuits.