Let's forget, for the moment, whether it's a good idea to require foods that have been genetically engineered to show that on the labeling, as Proposition 37 on the November ballot would do. There's a curious provision in the initiative that's causing more immediate concern.
The wording has to do with when foods can be labeled "natural," and though it requires a bit of scrolling back and forth from one provision to another to determine which foods are targeted in which provisions, it wouldn't be utterly crazy to read the wording as saying that processed foods — whether they contain genetically engineered ingredients or not — could not be labeled as natural. One example opponents of the measure bring up is olive oil. There are no genetically engineered olive oils, but if the initiative can be read to mean all processed foods, olive oil couldn’t be labeled as natural unless the olives had been grown organically.
Supporters of the measure contend that this isn’t true, that it’s clear the initiative exempts processed foods unless they’re made with significant amounts of engineered ingredients.
But the Legislative Analyst's Office isn’t so sure. Its analysis of Proposition 37 says: