Small business under Proposition 37 (GMO labeling in California)

I advise anyone who favors Proposition 37 to read the text of the law.  It is full of bad ideas and questionable distinctions, many of which are not apparent from the more superficial descriptions of the proposal.  Here is one of them:

Retailers (such as grocery stores) would be primarily responsible for complying with the measure by ensuring that their food products are correctly labeled. Products that are labeled as GE would be in compliance. For each product that is not labeled as GE, a retailer generally must be able to document why that product is exempt from labeling. There are two main ways in which a retailer could document that a product is exempt: (1) by obtaining a sworn statement from the provider of the product (such as a wholesaler) indicating that the product has not been intentionally or knowingly genetically engineered or (2) by receiving independent certification that the product does not contain GE ingredients. Other entities throughout the food supply chain (such as farmers and food manufacturers) may also be responsible for maintaining these records.

I call this the “how to kill off small farmers and retailers” provision.  And what would it do to local farmers’ markets to have the burden of proof so shifted?  Who is best situated to handle possible lawsuits or shakedown lawsuits?  The larger corporations.

It is interesting to see what receives an exception from the labeling provisions: alcohol, restaurant food, and animal meats raised from genetically engineered crops.  (Lobby much?)  For varying reasons, those are some of the outputs most likely to be harmful to you or to the environment.

Prop. 37 also exempts milk, cheese, and meat and it exempts “small” amounts of transgenic material in foodstuffs.  According to critics of the bill it exempts 2/3 or so of the food products which Californians consume.

I do not think it is very well thought through.


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