California voters have apparently defeated Proposition 37, a ballot measure that would have mandated labeling of foods made from genetically modified crops.
While on the surface there is nothing wrong with a voluntary labelling scheme. This is much better than coercing anyone to buy or not buy anything. However, it was good for Proposition 37 to go down because it would have likely emboldened food activists in other states to adopt such measures.
These measures are troubling because they suggest that genetically-modified foods are bad for you, despite much scientific evidence to the contrary. It is also likely some food companies would respond negatively to these foods if consumers shunned labelled foods.
There is also an undercurrent to this anti-GMO movement that is anti-corporate and romanticizes agriculture from days past. In the great Keith Kloor piece linked to above, there are admissions from anti-GMO activists that this mainly about sticking it to Big Food.
But, it is modern industrial farming and food production that many experts argue is the hope for humankind as it struggles to feed itself. Relying on romanticized, pastoral subsistence-style agriculture is not the way to go.
The Frontier Centre recently hosted Dr. Pierre Desrochers, a geographer at the University of Toronto, who lauded the miracles of modern agriculture and technologies in elevating much of humanity from famine and malnutrition. Our interview with Desrochers is here. It is well worth a read.
A victory for this anti-GMO initiative, although voluntary which is better, would have sent the wrong anti-scientific, anti-progress message.