Propostion 37 Narrowly Defeated by Corporate
Millions, Deceptive Ads
By Dan Bacher
California Progress Report
November 8, 2012
Fishermen, environmentalists and consumer
advocates were disappointed - but not surprised -
by the narrow defeat of Proposition 37, the initiative
calling for the labeling of genetically engineered (GE)
food in California, on November 6.
GE food opponents said they will be ramping up the
campaign across the country to make GE labeling
the law in the coming year and are already
organizing in over a dozen states.
Pesticide companies, led by Monsanto and Dupont,
and other corporations spent nearly $50 million to
defeat the grassroots effort. The need to label food
products arises from the dramatic proliferation of
processed food containing genetically engineered
components in recent years - and from the push by
the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to
approve AquaBounty's genetically modified Atlantic
salmon for human consumption.
"Yesterday, we showed that there is a food
movement in the United States, and it is strong,
vibrant and too powerful to stop," the CA Right to
Know (Proposition 37) Campaign said in a
statement. "We always knew we were the underdogs,
and the underdogs nearly took the day. Dirty money
and dirty tactics may have won this skirmish, but
they will not win the war.
"Today, we are more than 4 million votes closer to
knowing what's in our food than when we started.
This is a victory and a giant step forward. We are
proud of our broad coalition of moms and dads,
farmers, nurses, environmentalists, faith and labor
leaders who did so much with so few resources to
bring us to this point, and we will carry forward,"
according to the statement.
One Bought Election Doesn't Change Massive
Support for GE Food Labeling
Kristin Lynch, the Food & Water Watch Pacific
Region Director, also issued a statement today
commenting on Proposition 37's narrow loss. She
emphasized that the unprecedented campaign of
falsehoods and deception funded by pesticide and
junk food corporations led to the proposition's
defeat, in spite of strong public support for GE food
"In the face of unrelenting deceptive advertising
funded by giant chemical and processed food
corporations to the tune of nearly $50 million,
California's Proposition 37 calling for a simple label
on genetically engineered food narrowly lost with 47
percent of the vote," said Lynch. "While support for
GE food labels has never been stronger, the
incessant drumbeat of misleading and outright false
industry advertising was barely able to defeat this
popular measure. While disappointed in the result,
we believe that this movement to label GE foods is
stronger than ever and we will continue to build a
robust national grassroots campaign to push for
mandatory labeling across the country.
"Pesticide companies led by Monsanto and DuPont,
and processed food corporations led by Pepsi and
Kraft spent an unprecedented amount of money to
confuse and deceive Californians into voting against
their right to know what's in their food. But we
should not be surprised - honesty and transparency
are clearly not the priority of corporations that
spend millions keeping consumers in the dark
about whether or not their food has been genetically
altered in a laboratory.
"However, one bought election does not change the
fact that more than 90 percent of Americans want to
join the more than 60 other countries around the
world in knowing whether or not their food has been
genetically engineered with a simple label. As we've
done with other initiatives like nutrition and
country-of-origin labels, we will continue to stand
up to these corporate forces until consumers have
the basic right to choose from themselves whether
or not to buy and eat GE foods.
"Prop 37 may not have passed, but it brought
together and galvanized people from across
California, the country and the world who believe
deeply that people have the right to know whether
their food has been genetically engineered, and this
momentum will only grow. We are already organizing
in over a dozen states and in the coming year will be
ramping up our campaign across the country to let
consumers decide and make GE labeling the law,"
Lynch concluded. GE Crops and Frankenfish
Threaten Salmon Fisheries
Commercial and recreational fishing advocates also
acknowledged the setback the defeat of 37
represents, but vowed to step up the campaign to
label GE food and to stop the FDA approval of
genetically engineered salmon.
"The defeat of Proposition 37 is obviously a big
setback because genetically engineered crops result
in heavier pesticide use, which is bad for salmon
and other fish," said Zeke Grader, executive director
of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's
"We're also concerned about the potential for the
approval of GE salmon in the future and for the
ability of consumers to go into the market and know
if they are buying a wild, farmed or genetically
engineered salmon," said Grader.
"It's time to take some names and make a list of all
those companies that worked to defeat Proposition
37 and stop buying their products, beginning with
Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Anybody seen drinking them
in my presence will be hearing from me," said
"No on 37" Celebrates Defeat of Initiative
The No on 37 Campaign issued a statement
celebrating the defeat of the proposition, calling it
"the flawed and misguided food labeling measure."
"California voters clearly saw through Prop 37 and
rejected higher food costs, more lawsuits and more
bureaucracy," claimed Henry I. Miller, M.D., a fellow
at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "Food
labeling policy should be based on logic and
science, not fear. Leading scientific organizations
have all agreed that foods containing genetically
engineered ingredients are safe and are not
materially different from their traditional
counterparts. We're glad the voters rejected this
misleading, costly and unnecessary measure."
Besides the pesticide and junk food corporations,
corporate agribusiness interests pushing for the
construction of a peripheral canal were also
involved heavily with the campaign against
"California family farmer" Ted Sheely, a Westlands
Water District grower and past member of the
Westlands Board of Directors who grows genetically
engineered cotton in the San Joaquin Valley on his
8,700-acre farm in Kings County, posed as a
"California family farmer" in ads against Proposition
"It's going to put the California farmer at a
disadvantage with the other 49 states," claimed
Sheely. "The people that are least able to pay are
going to be forced to pay more. Please join California
farmers in voting No on Prop 37."
Westlands Water District, the "poster child" of
unsustainable corporate agribusiness in California,
is known for its relentless efforts over the years to
stop the restoration of salmon, steelhead, Delta
smelt and other fish species on the Sacramento and
San Joaquin rivers, its unsuccessful legal campaign
to block Trinity River restoration and its current
campaign to build the peripheral tunnels.
The construction of the peripheral canal or tunnels
would lead to the extinction of Central Valley
salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish
species, according to federal, state and independent
scientists. Under the guise of "habitat restoration,"
the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the
tunnels would take Delta farmland, some of the
most fertile on the planet, out of production in order
to provide massive amounts of water to irrigate
unsustainable, drainage-impaired land on the west
side of the San Joaquin Valley.
Dan Bacher is an editor of The Fish Sniffer,
described as "The #1 Newspaper in the World
Dedicated Entirely to Fishermen."
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