Here is a head scratcher; when confronted about the vague, conflicting language in Proposition 37 - even the real name, the California Right to Know Genetically Modified Food Act, is weird and disjointed - Attorney James Wheaton, who made his fortune in nuisance lawsuits under the Proposition 65 labeling act he championed, told the Sacramento Bee's Dan Moran he put so little thought into the verbage of Proposition 37 that he he hadn't given any thought to whether he might litigate over the new measure, if it passes.
Wait, a lawyer who was hand-picked by organic food companies to write and lead this initiative doesn't think he will sue, despite that being all he does, or even think it will lead to lawsuits? Consider me skeptical.
In reality, the whole reason to create this measure is to sue. It is a law designed to generate settlements from farmers and grocery stores and not much more. The wording is intentionally vague. There is no requirement that ballot measure be well-written, it just has to get signatures. So what if olive oil can no longer be considered 'natural' because the olives are crushed, Wheaton seems to be waving his hands and saying he never thought about his own wording crafted after decades of experience filing lawsuits: "processing such as canning, smoking, pressing, cooking, freezing, dehydration, fermentation or milling" are no longer natural foods. 100% of wheat is milled, we don't eat wheat off of the plant. Olives are pressed to make olive oil. Do organic food people sit around drinking martinis and think olives are only used with booze? The only way those products can now be considered products of nature is - wait for it, wait for it - to pay for an organic sticker and be exempt from the law designed to produce transparency in food.
Joseph Mercola, who is so important to the anti-GMO movement he gets his own whole page on QuackWatch, certainly thought about the wording. It's wording that will make him richer. Why else would someone from Chicago invest $1,100,000 (and counting) to create a law in California?
Mercola hates the FDA, of course, and they don't think much of him either. He has been warned multiple times by them, because he sells a product claiming it can detect breast cancer, he claims raw milk is good for you, chemotherapy will kill you before cancer will - and, oh yeah, vaccines are bad for kids.
Despite the crackpot history and overwhelming concern from people who aren't going to make money off this law, advocates maintain things are just peachy. "Do we embrace everything our supporters believe? No," Doug Linney, the initiative's campaign manager, told Moran. "The campaign is to label genetically modified food. People have a right to know. That is the simple premise of the initiative."
Well, those are two different things. If people have a right to know, food sold by crackpots should not be exempt. Nor should any organic food be exempt. There's no domestic cow, 'organic' or not, that has not been genetically modified.
People generally want to know what is in food, even if they never read it. When asked if contents of GM food should be on labels, people overwhelmingly say 'yes'. Actually, I worry about anyone who says 'no'. But they say the same thing about organic food and when they become aware of how many synthetic things are allowed in organic food, and how much of food actually has to be organic to get an organic sticker, 100% of people (in informal, uncontrolled surveys) want labels for organic food too.
Yet none of this was anticipated by a lawyers who got rich doing lawsuits under the Prop. 65 'the world around you may contain products that cause cancer' law, or the snake oil salesman who spent $1.1 in California for this law, though he lives in Illinois - they insist you should just go ahead and pass a terrible law and 'fix' it later.
When lawyers and other people who will get rich off of a law designed to penalize competitors talk, it is smart to hold onto your wallet. A lawyer making a fortune off of being specific in verbage didn't suddenly get vague by accident.
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