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Fishermen, environmentalists and consumer advocates were disappointed but not surprised by yesterday's narrow defeat, 53-47, of Proposition 37, the initiative calling for the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food in California.  

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 labeling.

“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.

For more information about Food & Water Watch, go to:

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 Associations.

“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 Grader.

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 Proposition 37.

"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 37 (

"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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  about that arc bending... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    atana, George3, DawnN

    i take solace in the fact that the issue is being raised and discussed, even as i'm so very frustrated by monsanto's outsized influence on our food and agriculture sectors.  i hope that the arc bends toward people's rights to know what's in their food, and that it bends pretty darn soon.

    "Democracy is not a state, it is an act, it is actions..."--US Rep John Lewis

    by emartin on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:32:45 AM PST

  •  It will be back (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old wobbly, S F Hippie, George3

    and next time, or the time after that, or before long at any rate, it will win -- unless the legislature goes ahead and passes it first on its own!

    Pro-Occupy Democratic Candidate for California State Senate, District 29 & Occupy OC Civic Liaison.

    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky

    by Seneca Doane on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:43:34 AM PST

  •  2012 Don't worry your pretty little head (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DarkestHour, George3

    the science men in white lab coats know whats good for you and your family .

    1862 – 2012: A Brief History of Food and Nutrition Labeling
    1906 The original Food and Drugs Act is passed. It prohibits interstate commerce in mis-branded and adulterated foods, drinks and drugs.
    1962 President Kennedy proclaims the Consumer Bill of Rights. Included are the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard.
    1965 Fair Packaging and Labeling Act requires all consumer products in interstate commerce to be honestly and informatively labeled, including food.

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:47:54 AM PST

  •  I Have to Tell You (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, George3

    That it did not help that not a single television ad about Prop 37 ran here in the Bay Area that I ever saw. I also never received a single mailer about it.  Yet we were bombarded by the television campaign indicating that all the newspapers were against it not to mention pretty much everyone else in the free world.

    Even a little more effort would have made a huge difference.

    Truthfully the only reason I voted against it was because I am a believer that if something relating to food integrity unites Monsanto and all the other big agra folks here in CA it can't be good for us -- and the fine print is something I read but most voters do not.  Rail about that all you like, but it's reality.

  •  Too many people were scared by Monsanto's threats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that groceries would cost hundreds more per year, and too many people have never even heard of GMOs (another Dubya admin "accomplishment").

    We just need to keep bringing this back to the voters and getting out information about what GMOs are, and how they are used by giant corporations to increase sales of their herbicides and pesticides.

  •  I have always thought this idea is backwards, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    people will pay more for a "GMO free" product, than less for one that is labeled "contains GMOs", but that's just me. It'll happen, just not today.

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 11:16:03 AM PST

  •  Put it on the ballot again (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In 2 years, we might vote for it, if folks have a few more dollars in their pockets and those attacks won't resonate as well.

    We only have to shift a couple percent.

  •  this is an important issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And one I reallysupported but I see how ppl were easily scared by the threats of huge food price increases. And frankly, the majority of ppl in this country aren't about to give up their junk/highly processed food because of GMOS. For now those of us who do care will have to keep looking for those non-GMO seals and give up some processed foods that aren't good for us anyway! That's what I do and there are surprising amounts of non-GMO processed foods available for fairly reasonable prices in the regular grocery chains.

  •  If it couldn't pass in California.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...I'm not sure where you think you can pass it.

    •  Maybe Washington or Colorado? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      California is NOT the "progressive" state that it is often alleged to be. It may be "blue," but many of the Democrats it has voted into power are corporate stooges. It is also the state that allowed a scumbag like Arnold Schwarzenegger to govern from 2003 to 2010.

      For example, the California voters have voted for numerous reactionary initiatives, including Proposition 13 (property tax) and Proposition 8 (ban on gay marriage), over the years.

      Many other states are actually ahead of California in displaying their "progressive" values on an array of issues. While medical use of marijuana is allowed, California voters have twice defeated marijuana legalization measures.

      Environmentally, California is one of the most regressive states in the nation, contrary to claims by Wall Street-funded corporate "environmental" NGOs and the corporate media.

      For example, Delta death pumps kill millions of fish  including endangered salmon and smelt every year in order to supply water to corporate agribusiness and Southern California developers. You can review just a few of my blogs to see how Schwarzenegger and Brown have done things to fish, fishing communities and the environment that wouldn't be allowed in other states, such as Oregon and Washington.

      And the Brown administration is fast-tracking a fish and wildlife killing project, the peripheral tunnels, that rivals the Keystone XL Pipeline in its potential environmental destructiveness.

      If you read my blogs, the myth of California as an "environmental leader" will be exposed for the fraud that it is.

      •  Democrats had a good night election night. (0+ / 0-)

        I would be interested in hearing your opinion of why more of the voters who supported the President seem to have voted against Prop 37.  For example, 37 barely won in LA County, with just over 50%, and lost in Stanislaus County, which was carried by the President.

  •  Could the FDA require labeling? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know what role the federal government could play in requiring the labeling of GE and GMO foods--how might that work?

    I think a big issue here, as people have pointed out, is that most Americans still have no clue about GE/GMO foods or their risks. It seems to me we're as in much of a need of a public education campaign as we are of legislative campaigns on this issue. Once there's greater public awareness about it, people will start voting with their pocketbooks and we'll see more companies labeling their foods as GE/GMO-free as a marketing tool. I know very little about the issue myself but already look for the non-GMO label simply because I'm inherently distrusting of any sort of chemical or genetic alteration of the foods I eat.

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