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Two Sides Prepare For Vote On Genetically Modified Labeling In Calif.

California farmer Erik Freese pulls down a healthy ear of corn that has been genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide. He says genetic engineering has helped him to farm more sustainably.
Kathleen Masterson for NPR
California farmer Erik Freese pulls down a healthy ear of corn that has been genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide. He says genetic engineering has helped him to farm more sustainably.

This November, voters in California will decide whether the state should require labels on foods with genetically engineered ingredients. If the initiative, known as Proposition 37, passes, manufacturers would have to say somewhere on the front or the back of the food's packaging if the product contains or may contain genetically engineered ingredients.

In the U.S. the vast majority of corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets are genetically engineered. Those ingredients are in everything from salad dressing to ice cream.

As The Salt reported in May, over hundreds of thousands of Californians signed a petition to get the labeling initiative on the ballot.

So far supporters of the labeling measure have raised $3.4 million. The amount is dwarfed by the nearly $25 million raised by opponents. That includes Monsanto, Campbell's and General Mills, which declined to comment for this story.

Despite the cash disadvantage, recent surveys have the "Label It" camp polling well ahead of the opposition. Still, they're bracing for a possible onslaught of anti-labeling ads between now and Election Day.

For more, listen to the story on All Things Considered.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kathleen Masterson was Harvest Public Media’s reporter based at Iowa Public Radio in Ames, Iowa. At Bowdoin College in Maine, Kathleen studied English and Environmental Studies and was torn as to which one she’d have to “choose” when finding a job. She taught high school English for a few years, and then swung back to science when she traveled to rural Argentina to work on a bird research project. She returned home to study science journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduate school she went on to work as digital producer for NPR’s science desk before joining Harvest.
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