Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

GM Food Labeling in California Goes Down in Defeat

By a much larger margin than expected, California voters have decided they can live without labels on genetically modified food, a decision that means the state will not be at odds with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s policy of not labeling GM foods, which goes back more than two decades.

By a vote of 53 to 47 percent, the Golden State voted “No” on Proposition 37.

The vote was a stunning reversal for an initiative that easily started out with better than two-to-one support in California. One national pollster last March found that nine out of ten Americans supported labeling GE foods.

But after what rates as a fully engaged campaign for California, Prop. 37 saw that support evaporate under the pressure of a paid campaign by opponents and the “Yes” campaign’s failure to write and explain the law they wanted voters to pass.

Prop. 37 was a big bucks California initiative with funding that totaled $54.5 million. The “No” campaign had the most to spend, with $45.6 million, but the “Yes” side was not without financial resources, coming in with $8.9 million.

Map Light, a nonprofit that tracks California campaign spending, reports that Monsanto Company spent the most on Prop. 37, with $8.112 million going to the “No” campaign. DuPont was second, giving the “No” side” $5.4 million.

Others in the top ten contributing to the “No” campaign included PepsiCo, Grocery Manufactures Association, BASF Plant Science, Bayer Cropscience, Dow Agrosciences LLC, Syngenta Corp., Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola.

Those companies all gave between $1.7 million and $2.1 million.

The top two contributors to the “Yes” campaign were Mercola.Com Health Resources, with $1.115 million, and the “seed saving” Kent Whealy at $1 million.

Others in the top ten contributing to the “Yes” campaign included Nature’s Path Foods, Organic Consumers Fund, Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soaps All-One-God-Faith Inc., Mark Squire (Good Earth Natural Foods), Wehah Farm Inc., venture capitalist Ali Partovi, Amy’s Kitchen and the Stillonger Trust.

These companies all gave between $190,000 and $660,709.

The “Yes on Prop. 37” campaign did build on the coalition it created to get on the ballot. In addition to the state’s organic food movement, it brought such powerful groups to the party as Consumers Union, United Farm Workers, Center for Food Safety and the California Council of Churches, among others.

The campaign argued that California food shoppers have a “right to know” before they purchase GM food, and pointed out that consumers in 61 countries around the world are able to do that now.

But the Yes on Prop. 37 campaign was troubled from the start, losing the editorial support of the overwhelming majority of California newspaper editorial writers, who became concerned about the language the drafters used in the measure.

And the well-funded “No on 37” campaign pounced on those problems, raising concerns about how the how labeling costs could get passed on to consumers and how easy it would be to launch lawsuits against California farmers and retailers.

The No campaign also pointed to what it claimed is more than 400 scientific studies that have all concluded there is no food safety difference between GMO and non-GMO foods.

Prop 37 was not the only food-related campaign on a state ballot Tuesday. By far the most successful were the National Rifle Association’s (NRA’s) ballot measures in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming to make hunting, fishing and trapping constitutionally protected activitieis.

About a dozen other states already have adopted similar protections, which are designed to make the right to “harvest” wildlife. In each of the states targeted by NRA in this election cycle, voters agreed by margins in the three-to-one range.

Also Tuesday, North Dakota adopted a “right to farm” measure, which is intended to make it more difficult to challenge current farming practices. While North Dakota voters easily approved that measure, they rejected one that would have made some acts of animal cruelty felonies instead of misdemeanors.

© Food Safety News
  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    Well, you should be happy. 

    Consumers continue ignorant of what’s in their food, thanks to the ignorance spread by publications, and the money spent by corporations. 

    And the animals lost, too. Big win for you today, eh?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=116504443 Amber Jo DeClercq

      How is controlled hunting and fishing a loss for animals? Would you rather have overpopulation and animals dying from disease and suffering? There are only a certain amount of licenses for hunting issued. Poachers need to be severely punished as well as those who don’t respect animals, but the vast majority of us hunters see it as a privilege and not a right, and we have the utmost respect for the animals we are harvesting.  A lot of us also need to feed our families. 

      • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

        Measure 5 would have made animal cruelty a felony. It is already a felony in all states but North Dakota and South Dakota. 

        And the Constitutional amendments do little more than pander to the NRA. However, one in particular went out of its way to protect trapping–a barbarous technique that has no place in a modern society. 

        Traditional hunting and fishing has never been threatened in any of the states. However, there have been attempts to eliminate confined hunting, where exotic and domestic animals are contained in fenced areas, encouraged to become familiar with humans, and then shot like fish in a barrel by wealthy poseurs pretending to be hunters. 

        As for ‘right to farm’, again nothing more than pandering. It has no impact on federal laws regarding CAFOs, and should have no impact on laws against animal cruelty in CAFOs. It is nothing more than a smoke screen to hide the fact of very large corporations undermining legitimate efforts to bring out sustainable livestock techniques. 

      • mrwanker

         that’s right – just eat your GMO chilly and be proud of your grand kids that will glow in the dark…

  • clKoKo

    The wording was clear. What made it unclear were the ads that the NO campaign put out, spending $55 million on lies, trying to confuse the voters, knowing that a confused voter will vote NO. Grassroots word of mouth put the bill on the ballot and almost won us the day. If you consider that putting the “May contain GMO” labels on the packages would probably cost LESS than $55 million, you have to wonder what they are hiding?

  • mrwanker

    JUST THINK: 90% of everything mass produced is CORN or SOY. Goverment fafors and subsidiezes corn and soy production. That’s why a Twinkie containing 16 ingredients cost less than a bunch of organic carrots… but is eating CHEAP FOOD really cheap?… NO – you pay for it in ways you don’t think about. Look at what’s happening to health in this country in the last 20 years… THEY WANT YOU SICK, they want you to shut up, eat your cheap GMO corn, chew on Aspartame and follow it with Fluoride water… and than they will comfort you with anti-depressants, obesity treatments, cancer, autism, allery, impotence, premature aging, premature puberty, insomnia, anxiety, ADD and other wide-spreading treatments…
    Freaking China labels GMO’s… and they are not so stoked on healthy foods, but even they recognize the necessity… Those who don’t want labeling GMOs are contributing to hijacking of our natural resources with out of control technologies and help them elliminate ANY connection and liability in case IF (or more like WHEN) GMOs finally prove to do something really bad to our next generations. Of course they don’t want you linking your autistic toxin/pesticide/herbicide/mutant dna filled kids to the food they are selling you…

    • mrswanker

       Everyone should listen to mrwanker and do exactly as he tells them. I always do. Our kids are full of faulty DNA from eating cheap food before mrwanker and me could tear ourselves away from Elvis sighting and we were pretty distracted being abducted by space aliens too. We were reckless and fed our kids some chips and some corn doodles plus they drank some soda pop once and that should have killed them but it didn’t. Our kids are a complete mess — stupid, ugly, clumsy and they stink to high heaven because the DNA in their bodies is all messed up. But it is not what you think. Stupid people can breed if they don’t feed their kids cheap food. That’s what messes them up. All that dangerous faulty DNA. That is why it is good always to wear a tinfoil hat because there isn’t much DNA in tinfoil except for some from space aliens who put tin here in the first place but that is good DNA. We need to make more laws to stop people from making cheap food so DNA doesn’t get all messed up in our kids. Me and mrwanker will make the laws and you obey them or else we will send our messed up kids around to screw with you. And remember they stink to high heaven and so will you when we finish legislating you into our own image. That will be a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world then. You can trust mrwanker. I do and our kids will turn out OK as soon as food is no longer cheap like it is today.

  • Hilaryjg

    What a scarey world we live in when money outweighs sense and health.  How dare corporations highjack my health and the health of my children.  What to do?  Here in Seattle you can help get I-522 passed.  Vote yes Nov 2013. The people have the power to change this.  Let’s do it …………