The No on Proposition 37 campaign emailed Thursday to tout a new study by UC Davis professors. It concludes that the proposition on the November ballot to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods would cost the food industry more than a billion dollars and lead to higher food costs from consumers.
The study doesn't read like the usual, carefully couched work of academics. It's a spitfire of a report that boldly starts out, "A Costly Regulation with No Benefits." That sounds more like No on 37 campaign literature than a university study. But wait. This calls for scrolling back to the title page, where it is revealed that "the work for this project was undertaken with partial funding support from No on 37."
That doesn't mean the study is without interest for voters. Its top point appears to be that costs will be high because consumers will avoid foods that have the "genetically engineered" label on them, so farms and food companies will go to great lengths to avoid such foods in their offerings. In other words, the No on 37 campaign is praising a study that concedes that food companies have a problem: They might like genetically engineered foods, but they are very aware that many consumers don't. If those consumers were made aware that these were in the foods they buy, they likely would look elsewhere. It's an odd admission for a campaign to make. And it's a potentially controversial thing for lofty University of California professors to do, accepting money from a political campaign to come out with a study that takes sides on the campaign.