Proposition 37 Overpowered By Big Money

Despite overwhelming popular support during the campaign season, early indications show that California’s Proposition 37, that would have required labeling of genetically modified foods, is being overpowered by the likes of Monsanto, BASF,  Dupont, Pepsi, Bayer, Dow, Syngenta, Coca-cola, Nestle, and CongAgra.

With almost 98% of districts reporting in the early morning hours in California, the No column on Proposition 37 is leading at 53% to 47%.

Before the No Campaign unleashed its advertising machine, the L.A. Times poll found that nearly 60% of Californians supported Proposition 37. Other polls showed that nationally there is a broad, bipartisan support for GMO labeling.  Upwards of 90% of Americans favor labeling — something that at least 50 other countries, including Russia and China, already require.

Shortly before the election day, however, the advertising blitzkrieg from the opposition began and, apparently, it was successful at defeating our basic right to know what’s in our food. Granted, supporters of the initiative had their own ads too — but their pockets were not as deep as those of the corporate sponsors of the No side. Supporters of the initiative were outspent 5:1 with the No campaign pulling in about $45 million to the $8 million in the coffers of the Yes campaign.

This past July, Grocery Manufacturers Association President, Pamela Bailey, said that defeating the initiative “is the single-highest priority for GMA this year.” And the No campaign sought a take-no-prisoners approach to their goal of defeating this measure.

TruthOut reports that opponents of Proposition 37 were avid benders of the truth:

They’ve set up phony AstroTurf groups, misrepresented spokespeople and embellished their credentials, and misrepresented leading science, government, professional and academic organizations-including (but not limited to) the National Academy of Sciences, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, US Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization. They’ve bankrolled demonstrably phony “economic studies,” made repeated false statements in advertisements, deceived voters with mailers sent by obvious front groups, and repeated one falsehood after another—hoping somehow that no one would ever notice.

Corporations and the supporting trade groups may have won this measure but time will tell if this was Pyrrhic victory. With more consumers aware of GMOs in their food than ever before, and even more clamoring to have labels, and with prominent companies like Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle now aligning themselves with Monsanto and its ilk, there may be a consumer backlash against their products.

California Right To Know, the group behind Proposition 37, had the following message on Facebook for its supporters :

Whatever happens tonight, this is a win. Millions of Californians stood up for our right to know what’s in our food. In the long run, our movement is too powerful to stop. Thanks to all our amazing volunteers — 10,000 strong! This campaign belongs to you, and you should be so proud of what you’ve accomplished.