The U.S. remains one of only a few developed countries that do not require genetically engineered foods to be clearly labeled. In fact, roughly 80 percent of our processed foods contain GMO ingredients in some form, yet the FDA still allows their makers to use labels like “all natural,””naturally derived,” “naturally flavored,” etc.
After learning in June that a Right to Know initiative mandating GMO labels would appear on California’s ballot this year, observers engaged in a good bit of speculation over how the agricultural and chemical corporations that create these products would handle an industry-wide PR issue. The answer came in the form of a $46 million PR effort that blitzed radio waves and flooded mailboxes with negative advertising.
Those ad dollars now seem well-spent: voters defeated Prop 37 at the polls yesterday by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. The initiative would have required the packaging of all processed foods to bear the labels “partially produced with genetic engineering” or “may be partially produced with genetic engineering” by 2014. The rule also would have required “genetically engineered” labels for produce and prevented the producers of GMO products from using words like “natural” or “naturally made” in their advertising.