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.
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?