The trial lawyers and radical environmentalists took it in the shorts over the weekend as the California Republican Party voted overwhelmingly to oppose Prop 37, the ballot measure that would ostensibly require the labeling of “genetically modified food.”
I engaged in the battle against Proposition 37 after receiving an email from a political operative for the “Yes on 37” campaign ahead of this weekend’s state party convention and it became clear the liberals were going to make a play.
During my four years as state party chairman, the liberals would occasionally show up and lobby the party to back one of their big government propositions if they thought they might be able to get away with it. Fortunately, we stopped them every time.
Prop 37 of course isn’t really about food – it’s about lawsuits. It would require food sold at the grocery store, convenience store or other shop to bear a label if it contains genetically modified ingredients (as though genetically modified foods are potentially harmful, which of course they are not).
The real objective behind Prop 37 is to open the floodgates for a new round of lawsuits against grocers. It contains a “private attorney general provision” that allows anyone to file a lawsuit against a grocer if they sell any product without a label, and they can win the suit even if no damage was done to anyone.
It’s a trial lawyer’s dream come true.
Fortunately, common sense prevailed at the California Republican Party convention and the Initiatives Committee unanimously voted to oppose Prop 37 and the Initiatives Committee Report sailed through on the convention floor Sunday morning.
Yet, the fight is far from over.
The backers of Prop 37 have deep pockets, and for the trial lawyers involved, it’s an investment: put in some money it to pass it now, and make it all back plus more from the lawsuits and settlements that will follow.
They’ll imply that genetically modified foods are somehow not safe, yet their argument is undermined by the myriad of special carveouts and exemptions that riddle the initiative’s complex language. Soy milk is covered while cow milk is exempted, soup sold in a restaurant is exempted while soup sold from a grocer is not, and so on.
California is making it hard enough already for businesses to operate in the state, and Prop 37 would just make matters worse for everyone except, for course, the trial lawyers behind it. The good news is we won an important victory with the California Republican Party weighing in against it, now we need to defeat it again in November.