Proposition 37 in California is the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food law that would require that genetically modified (GMO) food be labeled as such. In general, I don’t think that GMO foods are that big a deal. But they could be and I don’t think that the science is all in on this. Those Serious Centrists who want to believe the false equivalency myths like to use liberal mistrust of GMO foods to counter conservative beliefs that global warming is a conspiracy. These two beliefs are hardly equivalent. The the truth is that there are very real questions about GMO foods and even more questions about just how helpful they have been to farmers.
I believe that foods should be labeled. This is a justice issue: very much like putting someone guilty of involuntary manslaughter in jail. Such a person is not in the habit of harming others. He behaved foolishly with terrible consequences. But putting him in jail isn’t going to make him less likely to do it in the future. Similarly, I doubt that people will change their eating habits because of GMO labeling, but they still ought to be told.
One thing that cannot be denied: GMO technologies have been great for chemical companies. The GMO opponents get a bad rap for being resistant to data, but much the same thing can be said for the chemical companies. In Europe, where GMO hysteria is much greater, labeling laws do not seem to have affected purchasing decisions. So why do the chemical companies care?
And they do care. They are spending many millions of dollars to defeat Proposition 37. And it’s working. In September, Prop 37 was winning by a landslide. But since October when chemical company ads started to appear (pitched as appeals to protect the small family farmer), the initiative has been losing badly.
On its merits, I think Proposition 37 ought to pass even though it isn’t that big a deal. But now that I see what the chemical companies are doing, I’m a strong supporter. Vote “Yes” on Proposition 37!