California GMO labeling initiative to appear on November ballot

An initiative to require labels on genetically engineered foods sold in California qualified on June 11 for the statewide election in November.

The number of required signatures for the initiative to make the ballot was 504,760. It took 10 weeks for the initiative’s proponents to gather 971, 126 signatures.

Testing corn for GMOs. (Wiki Commons)

According to the California Secretary of State, the initiative summary is as follows: “Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits labeling or advertising such food as “natural.” Exempts foods that are: certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.”

If passed, California would become the first state to have a mandatory GMO labeling law. Considering that California is known as the 8th largest economy in the world, requiring GMO labels on genetically engineered foods would not only impact agriculture business in the Golden State but imported goods as well.

The Organic Consumers Fund released the following campaign video in support of the GMO labeling initiative:

According to the state, this initiative would likely have a fiscal impact of $1 million in administrative costs related to monitoring and compliance. At a time when fiscal prudence is at the forefront of the minds of the California Legislature – many of them, at least – any such fiscal impact on the initiative could be a death knell for GMO labeling requirements.

James Wheaton, the proponent behind the genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling initiative, is a practicing attorney in Oakland and a visiting lecturer at Standford University in winter 2012.

For the full text of the initiative, visit http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/initiatives/pdfs/i1044_11-0099_(genetically_engineered_food_v2).pdf?

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