A national group of nutritionists says its position on the safety of genetically-engineered foods has been misrepresented by opponents of Proposition 37 in the California voter guide.
"We are concerned that California's voters are being misled to believe the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals is against Proposition 37, when in fact, the Academy does not have a position on the issue," said a statement from Ethan A. Bergman, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The organization is mentioned in the "Arguments Against Proposition 37" section of the voter guide published by the Secretary of State, which says, "Respected scientific and medical organizations have concluded that biotech foods are safe, including... (the) Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics."
Opponents of Proposition 37 said they based the statement on a 2006 report by the organization, which was previously known as the American Dietetic Association, and didn't double check to see if it was still valid.
"ADA's official position was in strong support of GE technology and safety and, unfortunately, the version we saw was not clear that position expired in 2010, though that's obviously the case," Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman for the No on Proposition 37 campaign, said in a statement. "We apologize for the error."
Supporters of the measure had weeks to verify claims being made by the other side before the voter handbook was printed, but apparently didn't make an effort to do so.
"We were naÃ¯ve to think they would tell the truth about an endorsement they had so we didn't think to check it out," said Stacy Malkan, a spokeswoman for the Yes on Proposition 37 campaign.
Proposition 37 requires new labels on foods containing genetically-engineered ingredients, also known as genetically-modified organisms or GMOs. It is being supported by organic food producers and alternative health web site Mercola.com. Opponents include companies that make genetically-modified seeds and major snack and soda manufacturers that use such crops in their recipes. About 90 percent of corn and soy grown in the US is genetically engineered. It makes its way into many packaged foods in the form of corn syrup, corn meal, soy sauce and soy lecithin.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics does not have a position on labeling genetically-engineered foods, and plans to release a new position paper on the safety of such food next year.