Is a genetically engineered red herring “natural”?
Say you had a red herring that was sent to a lab and crossed with the genes of an eel to make it grow faster – would it be fair to call this fish “natural”?
We don’t think so either. That’s why Proposition 37 prohibits genetically engineered foods from being marketed as “natural.” They’re not natural; they were made in a lab.
Seems simple, right? That doesn’t stop some people from trying to confuse the issue.
The opposition, which has changed its name from “Stop Costly Food Labeling” to “Stop Deceptive Food Labeling” – with “deceptive” apparently faring better as a bogeyman in the polls – is shopping around a new deceptive storyline to reporters.
At issue is whether Proposition 37 could possibly be misinterpreted to prohibit all processed food from being marketed as “natural.” No, it cannot. We’ve scrutinized the language and consulted with attorneys and tried to understand what the opposition is talking about. The answer is: they don’t know what they’re talking about.
We invite you to read the initiative and see for yourself. Both the language and intent of Proposition 37 are clear: it applies to genetically engineered foods, not other foods. Genetically engineered foods would have to be labeled and could not be (deceptively) marketed as “natural.”
Period. End of story. No sensible judge would interpret the initiative otherwise.
Still, some people have gotten to wondering. Yesterday, LA Times editorial page editor Karin Klein wrote that it “wouldn’t be utterly crazy” to misinterpret the initiative to possibly apply to processed food that isn’t genetically engineered. We sort of agree; it wouldn’t be utterly crazy -- it would just be pretty crazy.
Aren’t all foods in the supermarket in some sense processed? An apple is picked, sweet corn is shucked, salmon is wrapped in packaging. Whatever. Unless the apple, corn or salmon is genetically engineered – and very soon, GE versions of all three of these staple foods may be heading to a supermarket near you – it would not be subject to the labeling rules of Prop. 37.
And unless Prop. 37 passes, you’ll have no idea if the salmon you’re buying was genetically crossed with an ocean pout to make it grow twice as fast.