BY LINDA BENTLEY | JUNE 13, 2012
California’s Right to Know initiative qualifies for ballot
SACRAMENTO – California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced on Monday the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act has qualified for the November ballot.
The initiative, which qualified for the ballot using a random sampling of petition signatures projecting a number greater than 110 percent of the required 504,760 valid signatures, will require full disclosure on supermarket foods containing any genetically engineered (or modified) ingredients, and that these genetically engineered foods be appropriately labeled and identified.
The California Attorney General’s office has officially titled the ballot measure “Genetically Engineered Foods. Mandatory Labeling. Initiative Statute,” and summarized the initiative 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 foods 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.”
The state estimates the potential increase in state administrative costs to be up to $1 million annually for monitoring compliance with the disclosure requirements specified in the measure. Litigation costs, resulting from violations of the measure’s provisions are unknown, but could be potentially significant.
Currently, it is estimated 75 percent of processed foods found on the shelves of U.S. supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients, while 88 percent of corn, 94 percent of soybeans and 93 percent of canola are presently grown using genetically engineered seeds.
Polls indicate 9 out of 10 people want to have genetically engineered foods labeled as such.