Based on further feedback and evaluation, we’ve amended our statement: We now understand that the 0.5% number relates to the limit for single micro-ingredients only, while the long-established international labeling standard of 0.9% relates to major ingredients. We are still concerned about the potential labeling challenges and consumer confusion given the differences between Proposition 37 and other standards and labeling programs. However, we support Proposition 37 because of the consumer’s right to know and we hope that it will lead to one set of national standards.
(Sept. 11, 2012) Whole Foods Market supports California’s Proposition 37 requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods by July 1, 2014 because it has long believed its customers have the right to know how their food is produced. However, the company has some reservations with the proposition as drafted and hopes several issues can be addressed in the implementation phase should voters approve the measure, including:
- There are differences between standards under Proposition 37 and other standards and labeling programs, which could create labeling challenges and consumer confusion.*
- The people of California’s best interests will not be properly represented as the enforcement of Proposition 37 will not be handled in partnership with the California Attorney General’s Office to ensure objective guidance and impartial oversight, but instead by private plaintiff attorneys pursuing civil litigation. Manufacturers could be compelled to label products with “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” even if it is not the case to avoid costly litigation and protect themselves. This could result in consumers receiving inaccurate information, which is contrary to the intent of the proposition itself.
Whole Foods Market is encouraged by the parallel effort in Washington State with its proposed Initiative Measure No. 522 as it already addresses some of the concerns of California’s Proposition 37. These two state initiatives could possibly lead to a broader effort to create one federal standard on labeling of genetically engineered foods similar to how the National Organic Standards were formed. One set of rules and uniform support of a consumer’s right to know would ultimately be in the best interest of all.
The full text of California’s Proposition 37 can be found at: http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2012/37_11_2012.aspx
For more information: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/environmental-stewardship/genetically-engineered-foods
*This statement was amended based on feedback and further evaluation of the proposition.
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