Want to Know What's In Your Food?

The Huffington Post just published a piece by Brandon McFadden and me, discussing some of the results of our recent survey of Californians on how they intend to vote on Prop 37.

Our survey revealed most voters supported Prop 37 because they said they have the right to know what is in their food.  Yet:

If consumers really want to know what's in their food, a bit of web searching would tell them. Yet, our survey revealed that Californians knew next to nothing about biotechnology in food. In fact, 43 percent didn't even know the subject-matter covered by Prop 37. Survey respondents thought about 47 percent of corn and soybean acres are planted with GE seed (as indicated, the reality is actually around 90 percent) and they thought 45 percent of wheat acres were planted with GE seed (the reality is close to zero percent). More than 69 percent didn't know whether any Coke products contained GE (they likely do), and more than 59 percent didn't know whether any Kellogg's products contain GE (they likely do). Maybe that's the point of mandatory GE labels -- to tell consumers things they don't already know. But, we're doing it now. Voluntarily. For free.

After fully disclosing which crops in the US are genetically modified, we argue that:

It seems many people confuse the "right to know" with the "right to buy." Many people want to avoid foods made with GE, and fortunately there are ways for them currently to do so. Simply look at the back of the package to see if the word corn, soy, sugar beet, canola, or papaya is in the ingredient list. Even without Prop 37, consumers already have access to non-GE foods, which are currently labeled if they choose to buy organic. Sure, organic or non-GE food is more expensive, but the reality is that organic or non-GE food is more expensive to produce. Requiring labels through Prop 37 is not going to change that fact.