Prop 37 Facts: Be Informed When You Buy


The other day I had a long and intense conversation with two close friends in which we debated the issues surrounding prop 37. We dove deep into the topic for hours, and peeled back the consequential layers of prop 37, its unintended potential effects and overall impact on consumers – I wanted to share some of the topics we discussed with you.

GMO (genetically modified organism) is an organism modified on the genetic level through genetic engineering to alter some of its natural traits. Setting aside the argument of whether GMO products are good or bad, prop 37 is about the right consumers should have to know what they are buying. What is prop 37? Prop 37 will require GMO products, raw or processed, to be labeled as such.

Millions of dollars are being spent on both sides of the argument with Yes on 37 being the clear underdog raising $7.7m as opposed to No on 37 with over $35m as of October 14.
Top donors AGAINST the proposition include:

And top donors FOR the proposition include:

With all these opinions being circulated it can be hard to make an informed decision based on speculation and paid opinions, so I’ve made an outline with language straight from the Proposition text along with examples to help provide you with a straightforward overview of prop 37.

Raw products:

  • Individually packaged goods must have “Genetically Engineered” labeled on the front of the package.
    • Example: A packaged head of GMO lettuce would have on the front label “Genetically Engineered”
  • Not individually packaged goods must be labeled on the shelf or bin where the product is sold.
    • Example: A basket full of tomatoes that can be bought individually would have “Genetically Engineered” on the basket.

Processed products:

  • Must have “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” on the front of back of the product.
    • Example: A food product made of multiple ingredients some of which are GMO will have “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” on the front or rear label.


  • In addition to labeling, the products can’t be labeled as “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” “all natural” or any similar words misleading the consumer.
    • Example: GMO lettuce will no longer be advertised or labeled as “natural”


  • Any food made of livestock which has been fed or injected with GMO products.
  • Any food that comes from livestock that has been fed or injected with GMO products.
  • Any agricultural product produced without the knowledge or intent to use GMO products.
  • Alcohol
  • Until July 1, 2019, any processed food that has very small amounts of GMO products (0.5 of 1% of the product or contains less than 10 GMO ingredients.)
  • Any food that an independent organization has determined through a sampling process has not intentionally been made with GMO products.
  • Any food certified “organic” by the regulations of the Organic Food Products Act of 1990
  • Any food that is not packaged for retail sale
  • Any food prepared for immediate consumption.
  • Medical food

In conclusion, this prop supports the right for consumers to be better informed when exercising their buying power. I’d also like to emphasize the fact that prop 37 does not dictate what is good or bad food to eat, but it simply provides the consumer with the information they need to make an informed buying decision. Consumers should have clearly defined options before decisions are made.



7 thoughts on “Prop 37 Facts: Be Informed When You Buy

  1. This commentary demonstrates the simplicity of Prop 37 to put labels on our food that will enable us to have some choice about what we eat. I definitely want to avoid buying food that has a genetically engineered component in it, and Prop 37 is a great way to begin providing that information. Plus, this helps us understand who is opposing Prop 37, and as someone once famously said “round up the usual suspects.”

  2. Peter, thank you for your thoughtful, factual summary. While the wording of Prop 37 may confuse some, and it is in no way perfect, it is, nevertheless a beginning. Monsanto, etc, etc. have one hell of a nerve to think that we, as consumers, deserve no right to know if/when they’ve tampered genetically with our food supply. If they are so proud to stand by their actions then they can damn well label it as such and let the public decide! Yes on 37.

  3. This is the most concise and straightforward explanation of Prop 37 I have encountered thus far and it has helped to inform me on how I need to vote next Tuesday. Thank you!!

  4. Glad to know who is for and, esecially, who is against Prop 37, though the latter are no surprise. We consumers need all the help we can gat, as you point out. Perhaps he only problem with 37 is that it doesn’t go far enough– the exceptions you list make tat clear. But, never mind: I’m voting FOR 37!
    Thank you for this clear and useful information!

    • Hi Joan,

      Thanks for your post – I think that’s a very valid observation! I believe this is a great starting point for the work ahead and what our future accomplishments look like.

  5. I am sad that we are reduced to voting on a matter that should be the norm. What is the argument really about anyway? The ability to know what is in the food I choose to buy? Or, the power of money, self-interested brand-driven behavior, or simply protection of untested but supposedly valuable patented bio-technology? This is a false argument at best, framed so that there will be a winner and loser. But there will be neither, only a more polluted human ecology and trashed earth. It makes me sad to vote for something that should simply be the norm in a moral and ethical world. The food producers should be proud to be transparent about what is in their products, and let the marketplace decide on its value. Of course I will vote yes on 37. It is my way to have a small voice as part of the jury in the court of public opinion. The moneyed interests fighting against 37 are guilty of betraying the public trust in the name of business interests. I wonder if they eat what they are?

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