Proposition 37: Exemptions 101

2012-10-27T22:03:00Z Proposition 37: Exemptions 101 Napa Valley Register
October 27, 2012 10:03 pm

As someone who firmly believes that we have a right to know if the food we are eating is genetically engineered (GE), it is disturbing to watch Proposition 37, which would mandate the labeling of GE foods and had a wide margin of support, begin to slip in the polls due to a $35 million opposition campaign full of deception and lies funded by large agrichemical corporations.

In response to one television ad and mailer in particular, when talking about Proposition 37, people now express a concern about the exemptions. Therefore, it’s important to set the record straight.

Article 2, Section 8 (D) of the California Constitution states that a ballot initiative can only be about one subject, which is called the single subject rule. Far from being “illogical,” “confusing,” or appealing to “special interests” (as stated in one particular television ad), this proposition was written carefully and specifically, in order to comply with the law and to stand up to legal challenge upon passage.

It simply requires that all foods that are genetically engineered (or contain genetically engineered ingredients) be labeled, and prohibits these foods from being marketed as “natural.” It can require nothing else, thus the exemptions.

With respect to these exemptions, one of the most blatant lies is that pet food would have to be labeled, whereas meat for humans wouldn’t. What the ad fails to explain is that the pet food would have to be labeled because of the grains in the food, as many pet foods contain corn, soy, or canola, which are often genetically engineered.

There are currently no genetically engineered animals that have been approved for market, so meat for humans would not have to be labeled because it does not currently exist.

However, if in the future genetically engineered animals were approved for sale as meat, such as genetically engineered salmon that is awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval, it would have to be labeled accordingly.

With respect to some of the other exemptions:

• Restaurant food is exempt, because restaurants do not label their food. However, with labeling, restaurants would be able to source non–genetically engineered ingredients and could market themselves as “GE-free.”

• Alcohol is exempt, because alcohol is not food. It is regulated under a special set of federal laws, and is, therefore, outside the domain of this ballot initiative.

• Meat and dairy products from animals that have been fed genetically engineered feed, but are not genetically engineered themselves, are exempt because (again) it is outside of the domain of this ballot initiative.

While it may not be good for them, eating genetically engineered food doesn’t make an animal genetically engineered any more than it makes us genetically engineered.

However, the feed itself would have to be labeled if it is genetically engineered, so ranchers and farmers could decide for themselves whether or not they want to feed it to their livestock.

So, who is funding this campaign of distortions and lies? The top 10 donors (in order) are Monsanto, DuPont, BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemical, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Nestle, ConAgra Foods, and Syngenta.

Who supports Proposition 37? California Certified Organic Farmers, United Farm Workers, American Public Health Association, American Academy for Environmental Medicine, California Nurses Association, Organic Consumers Association, Consumers Union, Sierra Club, California Federation of Labor, California Council of Churches, and more.

Whose side are you on?

Don’t be fooled by the ads. Vote “yes” on Proposition 37.

Shirley Knight / Napa

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. kevin
    Report Abuse
    kevin - October 28, 2012 9:28 am
    So why do so many major newspapers, including the Liberal SF Chronicle, urge a NO vote on Prop 37?

    We all support labeling food, but this proposition was specifically written by an ambulance chasing lawyer with one thing in mind; making money by suing stores and farmers.

    We already have seen this happen before with Proposition 65. A useless, expensive law that does nothing except make rich lawyers even richer.

    Vote NO on Prop 37!
  2. eam
    Report Abuse
    eam - October 28, 2012 11:19 am
    Most people are aware that all of our media is owned by a handful of corporations. Also, whenever an initiative is written, of course, it is written by lawyers, because it has to be within the law and must stand up to legal challenge, but the brainchild of this initiative and the people working to get it passed are ordinary individuals. You can't say the same for the "No" side. Finally, there is no incentive for "shakedown" lawsuits, since according to this initiative (Have you read it, Kevin?), a lawsuit can only stop the company from continuing to sell their product until it is labeled and reimburse the costs of the lawsuit, nothing more.
  3. MyWrites
    Report Abuse
    MyWrites - October 28, 2012 2:12 pm
    Doesn't matter who wrote it kevin, you guys are always against anything that appears that it might cost the corporations one dime more. Enjoy your GM tomatoes from the local Safeway store - you know, the ones that are tasteless, colorless and are tough enough to be used as golfballs. They were designed that way to survive rough handling without bruising. More survive the transit to market, more sales for the store, more profit to the agribusiness that grew them and the chemical companies that genetically modified them. Business 3, Consumer 0. I'm voting for it.
  4. CAN
    Report Abuse
    CAN - October 28, 2012 10:29 pm
    Kevin, you've fallen for the lies spun by the huge corporations fighting Prop. 37 without investigating into the truth about this initiative. If you'd read it yourself, you'd know that the the only entities that could be sued would be the food manufacturers who are responsible for adding the labels--not stores or farmers. Also, as eam said, it was written so there would be no financial incentive for filing lawsuits. Law suits would only make food manufacturers who use GE ingredients and don't comply with the law add the necessary label.

    It's ironic that Monsanto's ads are playing on our sympathies for farmers. Not only does Prop. 37 not hurt farmers (it's endorsed by United Farm Workers), but no one has been more cruel to farmers than Monsanto! Numerous family farms have been sued and put out of business by Monsanto when their conventional or organic crops got contaminated by GE crops. Rather than being paid for damages, those farmers have been sued for intellectual property theft!
  5. cwthomson
    Report Abuse
    cwthomson - October 28, 2012 11:54 pm
    Quote from editorial above: "There are currently no genetically engineered animals that have been approved for market, so meat for humans would not have to be labeled because it does not currently exist." Nonsense. Cattle are a domesticated species. From Wikipedia: "Domestication is the process where by a population of animals or plants is changed at the genetic level through a process of selection, in order to accentuate traits that benefit humans." Cows have been selectively bred just like corn, soy or canola. So, if soymilk gets a label, so should milk, cheese and steak.
  6. trustmejack
    Report Abuse
    trustmejack - October 29, 2012 6:39 am
    Seems like basic science is being ignored regarding this proposition and these comments. Specifically, what harm has or is occuring because GE foods are not required to be labeled? In my brief research I can find no scientific evidence that GE foods have caused any documented harm. On the contrary I find that GE foods have fostered significant increases in food production. This has helped to keep our food costs down. And yes, this has has also made possible increased profits to the producers fo our foods. Seems like a win-win to me. Unless business profits are themselves considered to be bad? I can only conclude that this is another nanny feel good about doing something action by the liberal left without any scientific bassis documenting a real need to do anything..
  7. glenroy
    Report Abuse
    glenroy - October 29, 2012 9:46 am
    The Proposition is like every other Democrat Prop….designed to benefit Democrats at our expense.
    This Prop was written by trial lawyers…every major newspaper in this state has come out against this nasty Prop….estimated food cost increases range from a low of $400.00 to $1,200.00 per family depending on how much you eat…but regardless even if you eat no GE foods you’re going to pay a lot more.
    The real objective here is to extort farmers, canneries, food product manufacturers and grocery chains… because they’re all linked in this extortion Prop.
  8. glenroy
    Report Abuse
    glenroy - October 29, 2012 9:48 am
    Amen Jack... not to mention grapes are GE and have been for decades.

    This Bill is so liberals can extort and control.
  9. rel
    Report Abuse
    rel - October 29, 2012 4:20 pm
    Don't be fooled by the ads! Vote "No" on Proposition 37!
  10. odiedog52
    Report Abuse
    odiedog52 - October 29, 2012 7:35 pm
    Rel - why? If you could, please be more vague next time. Because of your post without facts, I will vote yes.
  11. pjgreason
    Report Abuse
    pjgreason - November 02, 2012 10:16 pm
    Genetic engineering involves combining genetic material from different sources, such as bacteria and viruses, to create new DNA which is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified genes. This is very different from natural selection techniques, which have been used for years to breed for preferred characteristics in plants and animals. The most common GE crops on the market now are soybeans, corn, canola, sugar beets, cottonseed, and alfalfa. When the FDA first approved GE crops, around 1996, no testing of the long term health effects of these foods was done. The FDA was told by Monsanto that their GE corn was "substantially equivalent" to conventional corn and it was approved. To find out about the negative health effects of GE food, take a look at "Genetic Roulette" at The first study of the long term effect of GMOs on rats published 8/12 is available at
  12. Concerned Reader
    Report Abuse
    Concerned Reader - November 05, 2012 11:05 am
    I want very much to know whether the food I'm eating is GMO, altered to prevent spoiling, to include biologically produced pesticides or to be resistant to pesticide and weed killer. I do believe these chemical alterations in the foods can have effects on those who eat them. I am a big fan of organic and locally grown foods.

    However... this bill does a couple of things that I find unacceptable.

    1) Food imported from China and other foreign countries are exempt if sellers simply claim their products are “GE free.” Foreign food producers will NOT be paying the huge cost of American regulatory overseers to monitor their food production and protect us from genetically altered foods.

    2) California is BANKRUPT. I will not vote for any bill that increases costs in an already bankrupt State that cannot even afford the current level of social program expenditures, regulatory expenses, taxpayer funded union salaries and pensions... EXCEPT for police and fire protection. Period.
  13. Bio Prof
    Report Abuse
    Bio Prof - November 06, 2012 8:52 am
    Shirley: a well written article.

    cwthomson: Breeding through selection is a lot different from genetic engineering; you have missed the point.

    trustmejack: GE crops are typically lower yielding than conventional crops - this "yield drag" is well known. So increases in food production due to GE crops is nonsense. Further, you ask, what harm? This is the problem. No one knows for sure because no decent epidemiological study can be done - because no one can identify whether they are eating GM foods. Label the stuff, then we will know! There is actually good reason why foods that express foreign proteins might cause allergies in some people. Let's find out!
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick