Ballot measure: Proposition 37
The measure would require labeling of genetically engineered food.
The campaign to defeat the measure is now running a 30-second television ad in California's major media markets.
What's the claim?
The ad says that Proposition 37 -- which requires that some foods be labeled while allowing exemptions for dairy products, alcohol, meat and restaurant food -- would cost California farmers and food producers an additional $1.3 billion a year. It also claims that grocery bills for a typical family would rise by $400 a year.
Is it true?
The figures are misleading because they are based on a questionable assumption -- that the food industry will choose to use organic ingredients or ingredients that are not genetically engineered rather than use the new labels. That claim is based on an economic analysis by Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants, produced for the No on 37 campaign. It said that most food manufacturers would not want the new labels on their products and would likely switch to costlier ingredients. The Northbridge report said the initiative would have a "sweeping impact on the entire food industry in California and nationwide," including higher costs for farmers, grain handlers, food manufacturers and retailers. It estimated the initiative could cost California households from $350 to $400 per year.
It's unclear at this point, however, what the true costs of the new labeling requirement would be -- and how food producers would respond. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office says that Proposition 37 would increase state administrative costs related to regulating the labeling, reviewing documents and performing periodic inspections -- and that the costs could range from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million annually.
-- Dana Hull, Staff