The specter of California’s Prop 37 hung over the proceedings of the 43rd Fall Symposium of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) in Jersey City, New Jersey. The ballot measure, which was eventually voted down 53.1% to 46.9% during the November U.S. election, would have required labeling of genetically engineered products sold in the State of California, including fresh produce and processed foods (“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”). Genetically engineered ingredients would have been unable to be branded as “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” “all natural” or “any words of similar import that would have any tendency to mislead any consumer.”
In the lead-up to the vote, industry spent tens of millions of ad dollars to fight the measure. Yet, despite the victory—and the recent debunking of Séralini et al.’s “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”—industry can expect to face further GMO challenges, particularly in the U.S. states of Vermont and Connecticut, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Following the ballot defeat, Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, told the Times, “We’re now going to take the campaign to the next stage. We’ll keep up public education nationwide and step up our marketplace pressure.”