As CALA recognizes Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, it is important to highlight a measure on the November ballot that will open the door for more abusive lawsuits in California.
I recently joined many of my county supervisor colleagues throughout California in opposition to Prop 37, a deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme. The measure would ban the sale of tens of thousands of common food products unless they are specially repackaged, relabeled or remade with higher cost ingredients – just for California. Prop 37 will add more government bureaucracy, red tape and taxpayer costs, create a whole new class of lawsuits and increase food prices for California families – all without providing any health or safety benefits.
Prop 37 is also full of absurd, special interest exemptions. It requires special labels on soy milk, but exempts cow’s milk. Dog food containing meat requires a label, but meats for human consumption do not. Food sold in the grocery store would require a label, but food sold in restaurants would not. Foods imported from China and other foreign countries are exempt if sellers simply claim their products are “GE free,” allowing unscrupulous foreign companies to game the system.
Prop 37 sets no limit on how many millions would be spent on bureaucracy, red tape and lawsuits. It’s a blank check, paid by taxpayers, and a hidden food tax paid by families at the check-out line. In fact, California families can expect to pay $400 more per year in groceries.
Prop 37 was written by a trial lawyer who specializes in filing lawsuits against businesses. It creates a whole new category of shakedown lawsuits allowing lawyers to sue farmers, grocers, and food companies – without any proof of violation or harm. These lawsuits will cost food companies, farmers, grocers and ultimately consumers millions.
The US Food and Drug Administration says such a labeling policy “would be inherently misleading” and the American Medical Association recently concluded that “there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered food.”
Putting a de facto warning label on foods that are safe does not benefit consumers or taxpayers. The only people who benefit are the trial lawyers who wrote it. This November, vote “No” on Prop 37.