Should genetically engineered foods be labeled? Supporters of Proposition 37 say yes, but they seem to be losing ground to foes of the measure as the Nov. 6 election draws closer.
Reporter Marc Lifsher writes today that the big lead in the polls that the Yes on 37 campaign had a month ago has shrunk to a statistical tie, according to a USC Dornsife/ Los Angeles Times poll.
In this video, Lifsher and Times columnist David Lazarus discuss the measure with No on 37 spokeswoman Kathy Fairbanks and with Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, which is supporting the Yes on 37 campaign.
Cook stressed the campaign's theme is that consumers have "a right to know" what's in the food they put on their tables. He contended that adding to the already detailed information on labels for most processed foods would not put a financial or bureaucratic burden on grocery manufacturers or distributors of fresh produce.
Proposition 37's labeling information is a simple case of giving shoppers what they want -- more information -- Cook and a group of organic food company executives said at a news conference earlier in the day.
But No on 37 spokeswoman Fairbanks countered that voters -- after watching a series of critical television advertisements and reading newspaper articles and editorials over the last month -- are realizing that the initiative is "more than a simple labeling" proposal. Labeling and the need to carefully segregate genetically engineered corn, soybeans and other commodities from non-genetically engineered ones could add $400 a year to a family's food bill, she said.
Meanwhile Thursday, the board of directors of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, publishers of Science magazine, said labeling genetically engineered foods is unnecessary.
Such plants have been extensively tested and found to present no risk to the health of people who consume products made from them, the board said in a statement. "Legally mandating such a label can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers," the statement said.