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Food labeling measure qualifies for November ballot

A measure on the November ballot will ask voters whether they want to label genetically engineered foods.
A measure on the November ballot will ask voters whether they want to label genetically engineered foods.
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Genetically engineered food would be labeled as such should a November ballot initiative be approved by California voters. 

The measure qualified for the ballot yesterday after the Secretary of State’s Office reviewed a sampling of the signatures collected by the California Right to Know campaign.

According to the ballot language, raw or processed foods made from genetically altered plants or animals would have to be labeled as such. Those foods could not be advertised as “natural.”

Exemptions would include certified organic products, restaurant food, products containing a small amount of genetically engineer materials, and food made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered materials.

It could cost $1 million a year to enforce the regulation, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst and director of Finance.

“We’re thrilled that Californians will have the opportunity this November to vote for the right to know what’s in our food,” said Stacy Malkan, a spokeswoman for the California Right to Know campaign. “This initiative is pretty simple. It’s about our fundamental right to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families.”

Opposed to the measure is the Stop the Costly Food Labeling Proposition campaign, which includes the California Farm Bureau Federation, Consumer Coalition of California and California Chamber of Commerce.

“This measure is deceptive and poorly-written,” Jamie Johansson, a farmer with the campaign, said in a written statement. “When voters learn about the arbitrary exemptions, the self-serving provisions authorizing new frivolous lawsuits against family famers, food providers and grocery stores, and when they learn it’s going to increase grocery costs and taxpayers costs, we’re confident they’ll reject it.” 

The measure will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.