I realize that this is a little late, but the California Proposition 37 is anything but a “right to know” bill. In fact, as it stands, I’m almost OK with it. Why? Because it is utterly and completely useless.
Let’s just talk about some of the statements in the bill.
110809, 2, b
Processed food that has used GM food must be labeled. However, the label “shall not be construed to require either the listing or identification of any ingredient or ingredients that were genetically engineered”. In other words, your bag of corn chips has to say “GM Food”, but you don’t know if the corn was GM, if the canola oil it was fried in was GM, or the sugar in it was GM.
This also means that you don’t know the percentage of GM crop in the food. For corn chips, GM corn would be a huge percentage of the total. GM sugar… not so much.
This is hilarious. A sworn statement from the producer of the food that no GMOs were used is enough to exempt a food from the GM label. That’s it. No testing of the food is involved. So, California is making this huge law and the entire anti-GMO crowd is pushing it and the only requirement to not have to have the label is a “sworn statement that such commodity or food: (1) has not been knowingly or intentionally genetically engineered; and (2) has been segregated from, and has not been knowingly or intentionally commingled with, food that may have been genetically engineered at any time.” (my emphasis)
Notice that this also prevents any consideration for one of the anti-GMO crowd’s biggest bugaboos. The unintentional cross-pollinating of non-GM crops with GM crops. If it was not intentional and not known that cross-pollination occured… even if the crops are in adjacent fields, then no label is required.
This is also hilarious. This provision of the law says that foods certified “organic” do not have to be tested and are not subject to any other provisions of this law. So, you don’t have the right to know if your organic food has been cross-pollinated with GM crops.
This is interesting. The right to know depends on where you buy the product.
Food that is not packaged for retail sale and that either: (1) is a processed food prepared and intended for immediate human consumption or (2) is served, sold, or otherwise provided in any restaurant or other food facility that is primarily engaged in the sale of food prepared and intended for immediate human consumption.
So, if you buy those corn chips at the grocery store, they must have a GM label. If you buy them at the sandwich shop next door… no label is required. Restaurants are completely exempt from this bill, as are hospitals. However, delis in grocery stores are not exempt.
Here’s where it starts to get ugly.
save that the consumer bringing the action need not establish any specific damage from, or prove any reliance on, the alleged violation. | The failure to make any disclosure required by Section 110809, or the making of a statement prohibited by section 110809.1, shall each be deemed to cause damage in at least the amount of the actual or offered retail price of each package or product alleged to be in violation (my emphasis)
In other words, to sue, you don’t have to actually provide proof that a food was mislabeled, nor do you have to show harm.
Here’s what I think. I think that as soon as this bill goes into effect, the organic food lovers will be out in force and if they see a product that’s not labeled GMO that has corn, sugar, or anything else in it, they are going to sue against this law. After a few dozen of these suits, the grocery stores will either label everything or tell suppliers “no more GMOs”.
This is totally against normal law procedures in the US. Normally, one has to show damage and proof that the damage was caused.
I’m also very curious as to how this will interact with the provisions above about sworn statements that there are no GMOs. It appears that the law is targeting the sellers of the food (i.e. grocery stores) for the application of this part of the law, but the grocery store is completely unable to do anything if their suppliers have provided “sworn statements” that there are no GMOs in the food.
Will that “sworn statement” be sufficient in a court of law to dismiss an alleged GMO bit in some food? Remember there doesn’t have to be evidence or proof that there are GMOs in the food to file suit.
This bill add a section to the Health and Safety Code.
Any food is misbranded if its labeling does not conform to the requirements of 110809 or 110809.1
Here’s the problem though. No testing of food is required. Only “sworn statements” are needed. So, if a supplier swears that the food is non-GMO and the food is not labeled, then the food is not misbranded… even if there are GMOs in the food.
How stupid is this?
Oh yeah… I forgot.
This bill is NOT intended to inform consumers of GMOs in their food. It is intended to harass grocery stores to the point where a defacto ban on GMOs in California occurs. This is my opinion and I think that there is sufficient evidence to support it.