California’s Proposition 37, the nation’s most promising measure to date in the effort to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs), ended in defeat in November. But labeling advocates say the fight is far from over.
Biotech industries and food manufacturers mounted a $46 million campaign to crush the California voter initiative. The measure’s intended goal was mandatory state labeling of genetically engineered ingredients, but the opposition won 53 to 47 amid concerns that the proposal would result in frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing food prices.
Nearly 50 countries have GMO labeling laws—with some banning bioengineered foods entirely—but efforts in the United States have so far been unable to take hold. Attempts in 20 states (and one federal bill) have all failed.
Americans have pushed for GMO labels since the early 1990s, and the defeat in California isn’t likely to put the matter to rest. Recent polls show that over 90 percent of Americans support GMO labeling, and new labeling campaigns in 30 states are already underway.
In the meantime, many are boycotting the brands that contributed to the defeat of Prop 37, and consumers are taking the fight to social networks.
Since the election, companies such as Kellogg and General Mills (who contributed $632,000 and $520,000 respectively to the No on 37 campaign) have seen their Facebook pages littered with angry comments from consumers who blame these manufacturers for keeping GMO ingredients secret.
Whether a label will make its way on genetically modified foods is yet to be decided, but the issue is far from resolved.
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