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Environment

Labeling Genetically Modified Food

by Britt E. Erickson
November 5, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 45

A measure on California’s Nov. 6 ballot—Proposition 37—would require the label “genetically engineered” on raw foods produced with genetic engineering and “partially produced with genetic engineering” or “may be partially produced with genetic engineering” on processed foods produced with genetic engineering. The measure would also prohibit the use of “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” and “all natural” on labels of foods produced with genetic engineering. Large agrochemical, biotechnology, and food companies have spent about $41 million to persuade Californians to vote against the measure, citing no differences in risk between genetically engineered foods and the same foods derived from conventional plant-breeding techniques. The board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science spoke out against the measure last month, saying it would “mislead and falsely alarm consumers.” In contrast, proponents, including the organic food industry and food safety activists, say consumers have a right to know whether their food is genetically engineered. Proponents have raised about $7 million in support of the measure.

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