California Prop 37: GMOs

California has a proposition on the ballot that hopes to affect food costs for the entire country.  Proposition 37 would require new labeling for certain foods that involve genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Here’s an article touting the dangers of GMOs, and promoting the proposition.  The “evil corporation” theme dominates this sort of article.

Frankly, I’m not a fan of this proposition.  Besides various falsehoods in the article (e.g., conflating all money spent over time with money spent specifically on the proposition), the legislation itself is terrible. Here’s what I see at a quick glance in the text of the proposition:

  • It allows anyone to sue — even law firms themselves — without being required to allege actual harm. A bounty for bounty-hunting lawyers.
  • It takes effect immediately — meaning there is no time to actually implement label changes before the lawsuits start.
  • The cost of “investigation” may be awarded to the plaintiff even if the plaintiff loses.  (The bill doesn’t specify that winning the suit is required.)
  • Livestock fed with GM corn seem to be exempt, and other secondary uses. I’ll bet that’s not well-understood by proponents.
  • Organic farms — the source of hundreds of actual deaths due to their poor practices — are completely exempt from this proposition.
  • You can have ten different GMO components making up to 10% of the produced result and still not have to label it.
  • There are various other odd exemptions.
  • It is rigged to be unremovable — and allows changes with a two-thirds vote, “but only to further its intent and purpose.”  Very strange.

And, of course, all of this would produce substantially higher food costs immediately, essentially taxing the poor to pay for this trial lawyers’ dream.

GM foods that are actually problems should be dealt with, though so far the evidence is not as strong as it is for things like okra and peanuts. But anyone familiar with the gargantuan bureaucracy of federal regulations should be disinclined to expand it. Consider how bizarrely they treat even the handling of eggs, for example — spread across multiple bureaucratic fiefdoms, all at our expense.

This is written for the benefit of attorneys, not the public, and protects the sacred cow of organic farming. I will vote against California Proposition 37.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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