CALPIRG Supports Consumers’ Right to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods

Media Contacts
Jon Fox

Urges Californians to Vote Yes on Proposition 37


San Francisco, CA – The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) endorses Prop 37, joining over 1,000 other consumer, environmental, labor, farmer, health and business groups in the call for the labeling of genetically engineered food. Prop 37 would require labeling for raw or processed food if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. In addition, it would prohibit labeling or advertising genetically engineered food as “natural.”

“This simple labeling initiative is about consumers’ right to know what’s in our food, so that we can make informed choices,” said Jon Fox, Consumer Advocate with CALPIRG.

Food labels already list the calories, fat, allergy information and ingredients. This measure simply requires that consumers be able to identify whether the food has been genetically engineered. Forty-nine countries already require labeling of genetically engineered foods, including all of Europe, Japan, India and China. Prop 37 would make California the first state in the U.S. to require labeling.

Consumers want to know what is in the food we eat, and it costs nothing for companies to give us that information,” said Fox, adding “There are many reasons why consumers might be concerned about genetically engineered foods, including the injection of pesticides into the genome of crops, and an uncertainty about their public health impacts.

Polls show that nine out of ten voters in the U.S. and in California want this information,” noted Fox.[1]Unfortunately, rather than abide consumers’ desire for updated labels, industry groups like Campbell’s Soup, General Mills and Coca-Cola have pumped almost $10 million into the campaign to defeat this initiative and keep consumers in the dark.

Prop 37 would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods – defined as plants or animals that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria. This type of genetic modification occurs in a laboratory and cannot be found in nature. An example is Bt corn, which is genetically engineered to express a pesticide – Bt toxin – within the corn itself. A significant amount of corn, soy, cotton (cottonseed oil) and sugar beets used in processed foods are genetically engineered.


[1] See Mellman 2012Reuters 2010, Zogby 2012. An April 2012 poll by KCBS in San Francisco found 91% want labeling.


The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) is a result-oriented public interest group that protects consumers, encourages a fair sustainable economy, and fosters responsive democratic governance.



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