Marchant: California's Prop 37 on food labeling would be 'boondoggle' for litigators

ASU Regents’ Professor Gary Marchant recently participated in a debate hosted by the American Bar Association on Proposition 37, a California 2012 ballot initiative that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods and prohibit advertising claiming the foods are natural.

If passed, Marchant said the proposition would be a “boondoggle” for litigation attorneys, because it authorizes citizen lawsuits against alleged violators.

“This will result in employment for lawyers,” said Marchant, Faculty Director of the College of Law’s Center for Law, Science & Innovation and ASU Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law & Ethics.

Prop 37 authorizes private citizens and plaintiff’s attorneys to bring lawsuits alleging violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, which allows consumers to sue without demonstrating that any specific damages occurred. Additionally, the measure could cause problems in the use of “natural” claims, and the courts might interpret it as applying to all processed foods, whether they are genetically engineered or not, Marchant said.

To read more about the debate, click here.

Marchant’s research interests include the use of genetic information in environmental regulation, risk and the precautionary principle, legal aspects of personalized medicine, and regulation of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, neuroscience and biotechnology. He teaches courses in Environmental Law, Law, Science & Technology, Genetics and the Law, Biotechnology: Science, Law and Policy, and Nanotechnology Law & Policy. Marchant also is a Senior Sustainability Scientist in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences.