On the sidelines of the US presidential election, battle lines were drawn on a Californian ballot that has potential implications for broader debates about the challenges of global food security. Proposition 37, which was narrowly defeated (52.8% of voters opposed the measure), would have required mandatory labelling for all genetically engineered food sold to consumers in California.
Supporters argued that people had the right to know exactly what they were buying, and the requirement for foods to be appropriately labelled was simply a way of allowing them to make a more informed choice. Opponents claimed the measure would ultimately increase household grocery costs by generating additional bureaucracy and potentially tying up farmers and agricultural businesses in expensive litigation.
Behind the scenes were fierce arguments about the use of genetic technology in the food industry, concerns about biosafety, and a demonstration of the filibustering power ...