California's Proposition 37 Is about Ideology, Not Science
November 5, 2012
Tomorrow I hope to see that Proposition 37 has failed in the election.
Proposition 37 is a measure in the state of California to require mandatory labeling of food containing genetically modified crops. Its proponents have invented a cleverly compelling argument: that we have "the right to know" what's in our food. However I have yet to encounter a proponent who is not ideologically opposed to the idea of biotech crops. The measure is not about science or rights, it's about ideology. It's about ideologues trying to use the law to force others to adopt their personal beliefs.
The obvious effect of a warning label on the product is to raise consumer alarm about the product's safety, as is rightly done with alcohol and tobacco. This is why the organic crowd is behind Prop 37: they hope to frighten consumers of conventional food into turning to organic. Their justifications for why organic should dominate are all over the map: everything from honest misunderstanding of farming to pure anticorporate ideology. I don't think any of them really believe that it's about "the right to know"; this is just a beneficent-sounding red herring.
Even if it passes tomorrow, Prop 37 will never enter into law. Requiring food producers to label California-bound products differently is clearly impractical, and the courts will find that there's no sound reason to do so. It will be overturned, so the whole exercise is simply a waste of time and money.
Here is an excellent breakdown of the specifics of Prop 37 by a proper agriculture scientist.
Update: Proposition 37 did fail, so that's good news.
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