A measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods was defeated Tuesday.
With 92 percent of the vote counted, Proposition 37 was losing 53.1 percent to 46.9 percent.
Genetic engineering is a laboratory technique where scientists splice the DNA of one plant or animal and combine it with DNA from something else. The most common modifications insert genes from bacteria into crops to make them pest-resistant or able to withstand weedkillers like such as Roundup.
As biotech innovations have expanded in recent years, the percentage of crops that are genetically engineered has soared. Today, about 90 percent of corn and soybeans are genetically engineered, according to the USDA, as are much of the nation's canola and sugar beet crops. Those crops make their way into thousands of common food products that fill grocery stores.
Proposition 37 played out like a fight between a small health food store and a big-box grocery. On one side were organic food producers, alternative health website Mercola.com and hundreds of individual donors who believe genetic engineering is unnatural. They argued that consumers should have more information when they shop - and pointed out that more than 40 countries require labeling genetically modified food. Some supporters fear that GMOs cause health problems, though that hasn't been scientifically proven.
On the other side were conventional growers, large grocery chains, pesticide companies likesuch as Monsanto and DuPont - and many familiar brands likesuch as Pepsi, NestléCQwebsite and Kraft. They poured tens of millions of dollars into defeating the measure, funding a campaign that flooded airwaves, websites and mailboxes with messages that cast Proposition 37 as a confusing rip-off that would lead to frivolous lawsuits and higher grocery prices.
Proposition 37 was the second time nationwide that voters have been asked to decide about labeling GMOs. Oregon voters rejected a similar measure 10 years ago.
Advocates concerned about potential health and environmental impacts of genetic engineering have also pushed - unsuccessfully - for food labeling laws in 19 state legislatures and submitted a petition to the federal Food and Drug Administration earlier this year.
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Read more articles by Laurel Rosenhall
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "Report Abuse" link to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
Don't flag other users' comments just because you don't agree with their point of view. Please only flag comments that violate these guidelines.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "Report Abuse" link to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them.