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Will the new California proposition 37 on GMO food labeling force the "natural" label off basically all processed food that isn't also "organic"? That's the contention of some:

Reading the initiative ( the relevant sections are:

§110809.1 Misbranding ofGenetically Engineered Foods as "Natural"

In addition to any disclosure required by subdivisions 110809, if a food meets any of the definitions in section 110808(c) or (d) , and is not otherwise exempted from labeling under section 110809.2, the food may not in California, on its label, accompanying signage in a retail establishment, or in any advertising or promotional materials, state or imply that the food is "natural" "naturally made", "naturally grown", "all natural" or any words of similar import that would have any tendency to mislead any consumer.

Sections 110808(c) and (d) read:
(c) Genetically engineered.
... lots of stuff about what qualifies as GE

(d) Processed food. "Processed food" means any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any food produced from a raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing such as canning, smoking, pressing, cooking, freezing, dehydration, fermentation or milling.

Section 110809.2 has a bunch of exemptions including:

* animals who were fed or treated with a GE origin product;
* raw agricultural products unintentionally mixed with GE seed (e.g. unexpected cross pollination);
* processed food that merely uses enzymes or processing aids of GE origin (this provision saves cheese from being labeled as GMO);
* alcoholic beverages (even ones that use GE corn!);
* foods with very small amounts of GE ingredients;
* a confusing provision that seems to be there so that if groups like the NonGMOProject make a mistake when certifiying a product GMO-free, the farmer/producer can't be sued (but I'm not sure);
* all organic food under USDA rules;
* restaurant exemption;
* medical food

So a clear reading of this seems to be: If a food is GE or it is processed (110808(c)) and it is not one of the items in 110809.2. then it can't be labeled as natural. But I don't know how "and" and "or" really work in legal writing.

The specific example used in some of the news stories is conventional olive oil versus organic olive oil. Both are definitely processed per 110808(c). The conventional oil doesn't appear to have an exemption in 110809.2. So ... maybe?

Any lawyers want to chime in? :)
The use of the phrase natural on everything from peanut butter to orange juice could be imperiled by a statewide proposal to label genetically modified food, even if the food in question has never s...
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The very small ingredients clause seems to make it work so that non-GE conventional processed food can use 'natural' but it sure is a weird way to do it. Why even included the processed clause then? 
You almost had me convinced that the "very small ingredients clause" will let non-GE conventional processed foods be labeled natural. But then I went and read said clause, and I disagree. The exemption reads,
"Until July 1, 2019, any processed food that would be subject to section 110809 solely because it includes one or more genetically engineered ingredients, provided that: (i) no single such ingredient accounts for more than one-half of one percent of the total weight of such processed food; and (ii) the processed food does not contain more than ten such ingredients."

As I read it, this exemption will only allow processed foods to be labeled as natural provided that they have at least one and no more than 10 GE ingredients each accounting for at most 0.5% of the weight of the food. So the law actually provides some incentive to use some small amounts of GE ingredients, which is clearly not what the proposition's backers want.

Some of the other exemptions will exempt various other processed foods, though. Still, I'm amazed that I can't look at this law without finding a new way in which it fails to make sense.

But I agree with you that it makes no sense to have included the clause about processed foods.
Huh. I think you might be right. I wonder if this was a genuine oversight or was it actually intended? The various spokespeople for the pro-proposition side keep saying the natural labeling is only supposed to exclude GE processed foods, but ...
Bored in a meeting so I just asked Stacy Malkan on twitter. We'll see. :)
Here's a letter from a lawyer (linked in the above blog post at CA Right to Know) which attempts to explain: . Maybe I don't understand it well enough, but I don't find it convincing at all.

And regardless, you have to wonder what they were thinking when they included the "or (d)". It's hard to see what purpose that could serve other than including non-GMO processed foods.
How'd you find this? Did the pro-campaign point you at it?

Haven't read yet btw but will later. 
I noticed that it was linked in the blog post at the CA Right to Know site which I linked a few comments up.
Further reading the initiative, I think that §110809.2(b) ("A raw agricultural commodity or food derived therefrom that has been grown, raised or produced without the knowing and intentional use of genetically engineered seed or food.") would clearly exempt something like olive oil.

Less clear to me is whether or how this provision would apply to foods with several ingredients. Is it fair to say that wheat bread is derived from a non-GMO agricultural commodity (wheat)? If so, wouldn't this also exempt that loaf of bread from the GMO labeling requirement if it contained GMO corn syrup as a minor ingredient (present above the 0.5% threshold)?
It's interesting that both sides seem to think the Attorney General's office agrees with them.

For what it's worth, I found this piece from the No on 37 campaign, and I think they get it exactly right: . They explain convincingly why the natural marketing ban would apply to olive oil, among other things. I do think there is still a  hilarious loophole, whereby a product would become exempt if the manufacturer added a small amount of some genetically engineered ingredient.

My guess at why the "or (d)" is included is bad editing. Perhaps an earlier revision broke up the definition of genetic engineering into parts (c) and (d), they later condensed them into one, and then they neglected to change the reference.
Another possibility for the processed food part: perhaps they wanted to allow natural on fresh / whole products even if GE to avoid litigation. E.g. the Arctic Apple is pretty natural even if engineered and Kevin Folta's point about the exact same trait bred naturally into grapes in the 60s would have them explaining to a skeptical judge how exactly the two cases are different.

Reading your link now. :)

Wonder if they've posted it to facebook yet. That discussion will be raucous. :)
The 'no' folks' explanation of their interpretation is much more convincing than the letter the 'yes' folks got. Actual citation of cases on how section titles treated (e.g. ignored if text of law contradicts), etc.
To elaborate, the letter from the lawyers giving advice to the "pro" side on the right interpretation don't explain how the exemptions section can apply to non-GE food very well. That is, that section begins:

"§110809.2 Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food-Exemptions
The requirements of Section 110809 shall not apply to any of the following: ..."

Section 110809 is the section that requires a GE label. So the section in the "natural" restriction that says "... is not otherwise exempted from labeling under section 110809. 2" can only be referring to possibly GE foods that are exempted from GE labels.

Just found the draft ballot materials and a link to the court order:

Oh! Interesting! The judge did rule that the ballot summary text had to be changed. Specifically, the paragraph:

In addition, the measure prohibits the use of terms such as "natural," "naturally made," "naturally grown," and "all natural" in the labeling and advertising of GE foods. Given the way the measure is written, there is a possibility that these restrictions would be interpreted by the courts to apply to all processed foods regardless of whether they are genetically engineered.

The judge redlined this text to change "all processed foods" to "some processed foods". That is not very reassuring to the idea that this provision won't apply to non-GE processed foods. In fact, it seems to support my (extreme) example that non-GE, conventional olive oil couldn't be marketed as "natural" but organic faux veggie sausage could be (since organic is specifically exempted from GE labels while conventional non-GE stuff isn't).

Also: I love that this stuff is just online basically free (minor amount of taxes when I lived in California and my pretty cheap internet connection).
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