sustainable business

Corporations Throwing Big Bucks at Defeat of Prop. 37

Carolyn McMaster | October 9, 2012

Corporate concerns are spending heavily to defeat California’s Prop. 37, which would require food companies to label products made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) products (I can’t bring myself to call them “plants” or “food”).

According to today’s story in Advertising Age, the corporate antis are outspending proponents, by $34 million to $7 million. Monsanto has kicked in $7 million, DuPont almost $5 million; BASF, Dow and Bayer are top contributors, and Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and ConAgra have pitched in too. On the good guy side, the biggest donor is Mercola.com, with $1.1 million; Dr. Bronner’s and Nature’s Path Foods are putting money into the fight. (Alex Bogusky, heroic adman and founder of Common, has put up $100,000.) Ad Age says the measure is slightly ahead in the polls.

In addition to required GE/GMO labeling, the measure would prevent marketing GE foods as “natural.” If approved, California would be the first state with this kind of law; a number of European countries and a few others already have similar laws. Supermarkets say it could be expensive and a lot of work to implement, reports an AP story in the Huffington Post; the state estimates it will cost $1 million annually to monitor.

Why do we care? We need to know the truth about the foods we eat and products we use, and decide for ourselves what we are comfortable consuming (putting into our bodies). Currently, the food conglomerates decide for us. This measure would give us needed information and provide another level of truth to “natural” product claims.

Get both sides here: Yes on Prop. 37   |   No on Prop. 37

  1. I’m pro-labeling in general, and pro-Prop 37 in particular, but I’m also interested in learning more about GE food. The current debate seems pretty all-or-nothing, black-vs.-white, and I think everyone (myself included) could benefit from a more sophisticated understanding. Someone recently tweeted this article, by a UC Davis professor who’s married to an organic farmer, contending that Rachel Carson wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to GE food. I found it interesting; you might too.

    http://scienceblogs.com/tomorrowstable/2012/09/24/rachel-carsons-dream-of-a-science-based-agriculture-may-come-as-a-surprise-to-those-who-believe-that-sustainability-and-technology-are-incompatible/#

    • Hi Bronwyn: Great thoughts and great article, thanks for sharing it. I agree this issue is complex; as the Science Blogs piece points out, most soybeans are GE’d. As you say, the issues are far from black and white, and I would also emphasize it’s not just safety for people who eat GE foods, but sustainability — safety for our systems and the planet.

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