Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or outside of the USA, you can’t ignore by now that the hottest campaign leading up to the November ballot is actually taking place in California. Yep, forget about the swing states. It’s safe to say that no presidential election will have as much impact on this country’s food system than the referendum that’s currently brewing in California.
If Proposition 37 (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) passes on November 6, all raw or processed food sold through retail in California, that is genetically engineered or contains at least 0.5 percent of GMO (genetically modified organisms), will have to be labeled as such starting July 1, 2014. Exemptions include food sold for immediate consumption, alcohol, and meat or milk from GMO-fed animals.
It is expected that GMO labeling would spread nationwide since many vendors wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of issuing two kinds of labels (California v. the rest of the country). Furthermore, if GMO labels are met with consumers’ disaffection and a consequent drop in sales, food producers and processors may be incentivized to redesign their products and source non-GMO ingredients. In turn, this trend would impact the kind of crops favored by farmers. In short, GMO, which make up over 90 percent of corn and soy crops in the US today, may lose some of their grip on the American agricultural land (bear in mind that most of GE crops today are used for animal feed and biofuel, so the impact would be real although not dramatic).