The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting this morning that Proposition 37 that - on specious "right-to-know" grounds - would have required labeling foods containing ingredients from biotech enhanced crops has failed. In a vote for sanity and science, 55 percent of California voters rejected the measure. From the Chronicle:
Supporters of Proposition 37 said consumers have a right to know whether food has been genetically altered, particularly when the long-term health impacts are unclear. Opponents argued that the labels would stigmatize foods that are scientifically proven to be safe.
With more than 94 percent the precincts reporting, voters rejected the proposed labeling law. California would have been the first state in the nation to pass such an initiative.
"We said from the beginning that the more voters learned about Prop. 37, the less they would like it," said Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the opposition. "We didn't think they would like the lawsuits, more bureaucracy, higher costs, loopholes and exemptions. It looks like they don't."
The measure calls for genetically engineered foods to include labels on either the front or back of the product. Whole foods, such as sweet corn and salmon, would have a sign on the shelf. Products such as alcohol, beef, eggs and dairy are exempt.
With regard to the scientific evidence for the safety of biotech crops, in my column,"California Initiative Puts Profit Ahead of Science," I reported:
At its annual meeting in June, the American Medical Association endorsed a report on the labeling of bioengineered foods from its Council on Science and Public Health. The report found that, "Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature." The AMA report further noted, "Despite strong consumer interest in mandatory labeling of bioengineered foods, the FDA's science-based labeling policies do not support special labeling without evidence of material differences between bioengineered foods and their traditional counterparts. The Council supports this science-based approach…." Every independent scientific body that has ever evaluated the safety of current biotech crop varieties has found them to be as safe or even safer than conventional crop varieties.
Chalk one up for science over superstitition.