Prop. 37 (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) is a November 2012 California ballot measure that requires clear labels informing consumers if foods are genetically engineered.
Under Prop. 37, retail food in California is misbranded if it has been entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and that fact is not disclosed. There are different disclosure requirements for raw agricultural commodity and for processed food. In addition, if the food is "genetically engineered" or "processed food," as those terms are defined under the statute, the food may not, on its label, accompanying signage, or in any advertising materials, state or imply that the food is "natural," "naturally made," "naturally grown," "all natural," or any words of similar import that would have any tendency to mislead any consumer. The application of this section with respect to "processed food" is subject to some ambiguity as the definition of that term seems overly broad. Under Prop. 37, "processed food" means "any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any food produced from a raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing such as canning, smoking, pressing, cooking, freezing, dehydration, fermentation or milling." The issue with this definition is that it is not limited to genetic engineering. The plaintiffs bar may try to capitalize on this ambiguity by bringing claims over foods that meet the plain language of the definition - even where no genetic engineering is involved - such as frozen vegetables, cooked foods, dried fruits, and fermented vegetables, just to name a few.… Continue Reading