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In a heated political battle over a topic that matters to everyone – our food system – is it possible for a grassroots movement for transparency to survive a $40 million hailstorm of lies from the world’s largest pesticide companies?

Just over one week to go until California decides whether to join 61 other countries in requiring labeling for genetically engineered foods, and the pesticide and junk food corporations are in overdrive trying to convince voters that a simple label will cause the sky to fall.

Opponents of Proposition 37, the California Right to Know genetically engineered food labeling act, are pulling every dirty trick in the book – from inventing a false title for their top science spokesman (who happens to be an anti-science radical), to misrepresenting the entire profession of nutritionists, to making up newspaper endorsements and even fabricating quotes from the U.S. government.

The opposition ads, which are saturating California airwaves at the rate of about $1 million dollars a day, have been called “mostly untrue” and “misleading” by newspaper fact checkers.

Yet they are having an effect. After months of 67% support in the polls, support dropped to the mid 40s after just three weeks of deceptive television advertising. The most recent poll by Los Angeles Times shows Prop 37 still ahead, though barely – 44% to 42% -- as we head into the final stretch.

This is actually good news. Despite their full-court press of deception, the opposition has been unable to pull ahead. The recent infusion of $5 million from the junk food companies to the No on 37 Campaign, and a new $1.5 million donation by Monsanto, make one thing clear: They’re worried.

They know the people’s movement can win this.

Rallying to the cause for the people’s right to know are celebrities like Bill Maher and Danny DeVito, famous chefs led by Alice Waters, faith and religious leaders, the CEOs ofleading food companies and more than 3,000 endorsing organizations.  

Prop 37 has one of the most successful web ad campaigns ever, amazing videos arrive daily from supporters around the world (check out these kids), filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia just announced she  is offering free viewings of her movie The Future of Food from now until the election, and renowned environmental activist Vendana Shiva is heading to California.

And with just over a week left, the Yes on 37 Campaign is finally on the airwaves with a TV ad that goes straight to the heart of the matter.

Ending How We Began: A Message for Everyone Who Cares About Our Food

On Friday, after three dark weeks of unanswered opposition ads, the Yes on 37 Campaign announced a seven-figure television ad buy to promote its message to California voters.  

But how is it possible to answer a blizzard of lies with just one 30-second television spot? In what is bound to be a controversial decision, the Yes on 37 Campaign is going with a simple, values-based, positive message.

“Because food is love. Food is life. Food is family. We all have the right to know what's in our food,”   says the female narrator in the new “Food is Love” Yes on 37 ad now running in major broadcast markets across the Golden State – see the Food is Love ad here.

In polling and focus-group tests, the positive ad outperformed more critical approaches by orders of magnitude, a fact that surprised some campaign veterans. The results could be an indication that voters are fed up with negative political ads.  

More importantly, the Food is Love ad reflects the true roots of the GMO labeling movement in California. Prop 37 was the inspiration of Pamm Larry, a grandmother, former midwife and farmer from Chico, California, who began organizing women across the state two years ago toward a 2012 ballot drive.  

The hugely successful effort – which gathered almost a million signatures in just 10 weeks -- was largely due to the volunteer army that Pamm helped organize – many of them moms who just want to know what’s in their food.  As Yes Magazine reported, Prop 37 is a story about Soccer Moms facing off against Monsanto.

It’s all very simple. Food is a sacred part of our lives. We absolutely have the right to know if our food comes from nature, or if it was engineered in a lab by companies like Monsanto and Dow to contain foreign genes that have never before existed in the food supply.

So we are finishing this campaign with the same positive message that we began it with:  We have a right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our families. No one has the right to make that choice for us.

Especially not the pesticide and junk food corporations: Since when have these notorious anti-consumer special interests ever spent $40 million because they want to save us money?

We invite you to join us in aiming our slingshot at Goliath. As Michael Pollan wrote in the New York Times, now is the moment when we find out if we have a food movement in this country.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm not in California (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike

    but I'm watching this from afar with very serious interest.  It will be a game changer for all of us concerned with the consumer right to know.  Most countries already require this information, but because the awesome US of A is a country run by and for the rich and powerful, We, the People are simply to be uninformed about how the corporate farms, drug companies, and genetic engineering companies are poisoning us on a daily basis.

    They give a shit as long as the money keep rolling in and that only happens when we don't know we're buying and consuming something harmful.  

    Keep fighting.  It's not just about California.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning. Obama-Biden-Big Bird 2012

    by Puddytat on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 10:30:37 AM PDT

  •  Voted last week and we voted Yes on 37 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike

    I for one want to know if the corn I eat is not some Monsanto created frankencorn.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 10:51:18 AM PDT

  •  Personally, I think of Prop 37 as yet another... (0+ / 0-)

    ...example of people who know no science whatsoever trying to do the maximal amount of damage to the greatest number of people through the application of ignorance, but that's just my opinion.

    The most over represented countries for the use of GMO technology are poor countries, and yes, there is a reason for that.

    Scientific ignorance is one of the main driving forces behind the disaster of climate change, and now, because a subset of bourgeois people remain blissfully ignorant of genetics, we are trying to assure that there will be few food crops to address it.

    California and its proposition system is sort of a poster child for James Madison's concerns about mob rule.

    Heckuva job.

  •  Monsanto's latest... (0+ / 0-)

    And then there's this story from Bloomberg:

    Monsanto Roundup-Ready Alfalfa Should Be Blocked, Court Told

    Alfalfa genetically modified to withstand Monsanto Co. (MON)’s herbicide should be taken off the market because regulators didn’t properly consider how it affects endangered plants and animals, environmental groups told a federal appeals court.

    Advocacy groups are seeking for the second time in six years to overturn the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to deregulate alfalfa engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready weed killer.

    http://www.businessweek.com/...

  •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

    Why is genetically engineered food harmful?  Serious question.  Explain it to me like I'm stupid.

    Because while you claim that the No campaign is being deceptive, I think you are ignoring very real costs to additional labeling requirements.  It's a boon to lawyers and not much else.  Look at Prop 65.  It's beyond useless, providing no useful information to anyone and causing endless litigation.  I have friends who got rich defending these lawsuits.

    So I think we need something more than repeating the simple "right to know" mantra.  A bunch of people are freaked out about eating it.  Why?

    •  There doesn't have to be any additional cost (0+ / 0-)

      There's a simple safe harbor: label all processed food products with "Contains GMO ingredients" or "May contain GMO ingredients."

      Simple.

      And actually less costly than for example, country of origin labeling, which requires that food that was grown in China be labeled "product of China" or that food grown in Canada be labeled "product of Canada."

      I rely on COOL labeling all the time.

      Currently, I just assume that any non-organic product containing corn, soy, or canola is Roundup Ready GM, because nearly all of it is. With all of the new GM crops (and fish) coming to market soon, it will only be harder.

      I think consumers have the right to know that 70% of their food is produced using GM ingredients. What they choose to do with that information is fine with me... just as they do when deciding between apples from Washington State vs. Chile.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 02:09:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  exacty... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kdlemon, naiomih

        Its always strange to hear people go on these science rants when all we're talking about is a label. Prop 37 is not a referendum on GMOs...people can continue to eat all they want of them...its not a ban, its not even a warning...its a label, just like we have for 3000 other ingredients.

        I suppose it can serve as a useful straw man to turn this into a debate over whether you believe GMOs are either dangerous to your health or not...but of course, that's not what this initiative is about.

        61 other countries have labeling...why can't we?

        If you want to talk science, fine. Its called the Precautionary Principle. When there is a question over risks then the burden is to prove its safe, not the other way around. But again, all we're talking about is consumer choice. As a longtime consumer rights advocate this is about the biggest no brainer of all time...just give people the information so we can make our own choices, based on our own personal values.

        We know GMO crops lead to massive increases in pesticide use, which in turn are leading to the advent of whole new breeds of superweeds and superworms...is it too much to ask to give people the ability to easily opt-out of this pesticide arms race?

        Forget that we don't require health safety studies or that companies like Monsanto and Dupont suppress the science, only conduct short term health studies, and prevent independent access to their studies from outside scientists.

        Forget all that, and lets except the premise that there is absolutely nothing to worry about, whatsoever...the companies that brought us DDT and Agent Orange are worthy of our trust...fine...but that still begs the question: why shouldn't we label it? Shouldn't people know if their food has been engineered in a laboratory...combing bacterias and viruses with other plants and animals? or shouldn't we know if our food contributes to increasing amounts of pesticides?

        Please explain why I don't deserve a label...just like we have for calories, potassium, fat, etc.

    •  Maybe? (0+ / 0-)

      In my mind it is not a question of whether it is or isn't harmful, but whether it might be. I can decide for myself what chance I think there is of that, and whether to take the chance. I would just like to know which products do and don't have them, so I can do the deciding.

      The default for many people, including me, is to look for the opposite label, one that says No GMOs. If it doesn't say that, then it has them - probably. We can go that way, but being all secretive about it doesn't inspire confidence.

      I will eat GMO/Roundup tortilla chips when I am a guest somewhere and I know they bought "regular" tortilla chips. I never buy them myself, though.

      Do they know that every single corn farmer followed the manufacturer's directions to the letter on every crop? Has any farmer ever sprayed some extra Roundup for good measure? Especially when some of the weeds seem to be getting resistant to it? Maybe.

      Besides, the organic blue corn tortilla chips are excellent.

    •  Prop 65 comes in quite handy when shopping... (0+ / 0-)

      for dishes i plan to use in my home on a regular basis.  if i see the yellow triangle, i don't buy those dishes.

      does it stop me from going into a business that has a Prop 65 sign posted?  not necessarily but it makes me aware.

      I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

      by blue drop on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 12:49:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Skeptical (0+ / 0-)

    My daughter and I read through the ballot and the voter pamphlet last week.  We went person by person and initiative by initiative.  Some we already knew how we were going to vote.  Yes on both 30 and 38 (yea, taxes!), no on 32 (yea, unions!) others we were undecided on.  37 was an undecided.

    We both wanted to vote for it but the more we read in the pamphlet the more skeptical we were.

    Specifically (though off a week ago memory) we decided that the labeling would affect so many foods that it would be largely useless for consumers.

    We still might have decided yes as it would still have some utility but then we read about the funding mechanism.  That looked to us like the unintended consequences genie could do very bad things.

    This diary did not explain prop 37 in anything more than alarmist terms without going into details of what the prop would do and how it would do it.

    It is all very well to have your heart in the right (that is to say, on the left) place but with making laws we need to be very careful.

    I have been responsible for some very poor laws in CA.  (I voted for both 3 strikes and the needed super majority to raise taxes.  I apologize to everyone.)  This reads to me like poorly written law.

    Also, the author of this diary has a single use name.  Should really like to know who it is.

    I think we are still convincable on 37 but this diary did not do it.

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