The opening salvo in the battle over the proposal to label genetically modified foods includes ammunition that hit the mark last year in California: Food you buy for Rover would have to be labeled if it contains those products, recent commercials for opponents say, but steaks you throw on the grill would not.
Wrong on both counts, say supporters of Initiative 522. Pet food isn't covered by the initiative, but genetically modified meats, would have to be labeled – if they ever reach the local supermarket.
Each campaign can produce legal theories of the state’s complicated initiative case law to support their claims. The Yes campaign has mounted a response ad which the No campaign is actively rebutting.
The average voter might wonder whether it’s worth fighting about…
… It likely is, because the pet food argument comes from the playbook that defeated a ballot measure last year in California. Proposition 37 had similar wording and many of the same big-spending donors, with major natural-product companies like Mercola and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps contributing to the Yes campaign and chemical companies like Monsanto and DuPont subsidizing the opposition. (Click here to go to the Public Disclosure Commission page for initiative campaign reports.)
It also enjoyed an early lead in public opinion polls, as I-522 does now. But a $44 million campaign turned the tide, in part with an argument that Prop 37 was poorly written and had major inconsistencies, like requiring labels on canned pet food but not fresh meat.