California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)

“Genetic engineering” (GE) is a process of changing plants or animals so they behave differently. For example, common GE foods are corn or soybeans that have been changed to resist pests or tolerate pesticides. It is estimated that between 40% and 70% of food sold in California may contain GE ingredients. No current law specifically regulates GE foods, or requires identification of GE foods.

What Prop 37 would do if it passes:

  • Require food sold in California stores to have labels that say if it is made from GE plants or animals.
  • The law would not apply to food served in restaurants and certain other foods.
  • Exempt from this requirement 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."

Effect on the state budget:

It could cost the state a few hundred thousand dollars or up to $1 million per year to make sure food suppliers follow the new labeling regulations.

People for Prop 37 say (

  • Consumers will be able to make more informed decisions about what they eat.
  • GE plants and animals can create risks to our health and environment.

People against Prop 37 say (

  • Prop 37 requires costly monitoring of foods and would open the door to unnecessary lawsuits.
  • Food producers will have to make changes in pack- aging and/or in ingredients which could make food more expensive.


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