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“[Proposition 37] an unnecessary, costly and ill-conceived ballot proposition. ... This is a poorly written measure that would mandate that food producers provide misleading and confusing information to consumers. "
— Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO, GMA
ARLINGTON, Va. — As the Grocery Manufacturers Association anticipates the start of its annual Executive Conference this weekend in Colorado Springs, its collective eye is looking farther west, to California, where it will engage in a major election battle this fall.
The battle involves whether manufacturers will be required to indicate on their packaging if a product contains genetically modified organisms — Proposition 37 on California’s November ballot.
Pamela G. Bailey (right), president and chief executive officer of GMA, said the defeat of Proposition 37 is one of GMA’s top priorities.
“It’s an unnecessary, costly and ill-conceived ballot proposition,” she told SN. “If passed, the measure would ban the sale of tens of thousands of safe products in California unless they are specially repackaged and relabeled for sale in the state.
“This is a poorly written measure that would mandate that food producers provide misleading and confusing information to consumers. In addition, it would unnecessarily increase food costs for California consumers and increase frivolous lawsuits against businesses while adding new costs for California taxpayers.”
Bailey said the Food and Drug Administration has determined products containing GMOs are not materially different from their conventional counterparts.
“GMA agrees that labeling information should be reserved for important food safety and/or nutrition information,” she said, “and we are part of a large coalition of family farmers, doctors, scientists, food producers, grocers, small business, labor and taxpayer groups committed to defeating it.”
The Executive Conference is scheduled to include a session Sunday on the industry’s efforts to defeat the measure, featuring J.P. Bilbrey (left), president and CEO of The Hershey Co., and Louis Finkel, GMA’s executive vice president, government affairs.
According to the GMA program, Proposition 37 “was pushed by a passionate group of activists, non-governmental organizations and organic food manufacturers.”
A poll released Aug. 2 by Pepperdine University and the California Business Roundtable indicated that 69.4% of respondents to an Internet survey said they would vote in favor of Proposition 37, while 21.8% said they would vote against it, with 8.9% undecided. The poll represented responses from 873 likely voters.