Proposition 37 on this year's ballot asks Californians to decide whether manufacturers should be required to label foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.
If the measure is approved, California would become the first state in the nation to label genetically modified foods. Similar laws have already been adopted by much of Europe and Japan.
Genetic engineering involves manipulating the genes of an organism to achieve a desired result. To a degree, it is like the long-time farming process of creating hybrid plants.
However, in the lab, scientists are able to do more than is generally thought of in creating hybrids, including using genes from bacteria and other organisms to make plants disease-resistent.
Opponents, including a number of major food producers, say the measure would make food more costly.
But those in favor, including several organic food companies, say it will allow consumers to make intelligent choices about what to buy.
"There are no long-term health studies that have proven that genetically engineered food is safe for humans," supporters said in their arguments in favor of the measure. "Whether you buy genetically engineered food or not, you have a right to know what you are buying and not gamble on your family’s health."
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