Prop 37 - for and against

Prop 37, what’s it got to do with us?

The proposition 37 (or Prop 37) vote in California last year concerned the labeling of GM foods, according to Wikipedia

Proposition 37 was a California ballot measure rejected in California at the state-wide election on November 6, 2012. This initiative statute would have required labeling of genetically engineered food, with some exceptions. It would have disallowed the practice of labeling genetically engineered food with the word “natural”

That seems very sensible to me but it failed to become law. Why? Why on earth wouldn’t you want to know what you are eating. As a vegan it’s a fairly normal question “what’s in that?”. I want to know. And I certainly want to know whether I’m eating GM food or not.

The Huffington Post says that the anti-labeling budget for the campaign far outstripped that of the pro-labeling campaign. If you click the image below you will open the full infographic from Cornucopia, a small farmers group in America. You will probably have to reduce the size to see it properly – use ctrl and the ‘-‘ key.

Prop 37 - for and against
For and Against Prop 37 | Source –
Although the exact figures do not match the scale of the disadvantage the pro-labeling campaign suffered is not in doubt. Cornucopia report a 5:1 disadvantage while Huffington Post put it at 6:1. That’s not a level playing field in anyone’s book. It’s amazing they got as much of the vote as they did – 47% apparently.

I can’t figure out why anyone would vote against knowing what is in their food but I suppose that’s why the anti-labeling campaign spent so much money. One thing is very clear, the anti-labeling faction took and still take the threat of labeling seriously and will make the money available to crush such a threat. And they did take it seriously, because they had to. An ABC news poll showed that 93% favoured the Prop 37 stance!

You’ll notice that top of the tree in backing the anti-labeling effort is mean old Monsanto. They contributed over $8m, while Pepsi, Coke, Kraft and two other firms chipped in multi-million donations. Also interesting is that the second largest contributor to the pro-labeling cause is Dr. Mercola, putting his money where his mouth is, brilliant.

Two points to think about from the Prop 37 poster

Monsanto crush all protest – friends in high places

Monsanto put a lot of effort into protecting it’s interests. This effort is obvious in this instance but not so in other cases. For example, the recent March against Monsanto had zero TV coverage while only the Guardian reported it at all in the mainstream press. A pretty poor effort perhaps due to lobbying from interested parties?

The scale of the lobbying is what is striking. It seems that Monsanto has friends in high places. The recent Monsanto Protection Act was co-authored by a senator who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and recent wikileak information indicates that the US state department actively promotes the biotech agenda abroad. Conflict of interests?

With this level of backing, how can a true reflection of the harm/good GM crops and seeds posses. I do not support GM food and will avoid it at all costs until sufficient testing shows this technology to be safe for humans.

I’m not radically against GM technology, there could be a use for this technology with correct testing. This testing has not be conducted. Monsanto controls this testing via patents it owns for the GM crops it produces. The control what tests can be performed, simple.

For more information watch the Genetic Roulette video, which provides a different side to Monsanto than their public one. This is produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology, a group of concerned scientists.

Prop 37 was a US issue but the wider issue is the methods of Monsanto and their incessant pressing for the adoption of GM crops and foods in the EU. This affects all of us! Their lobbying is influencing high level EU policy and especially so in the UK. One reason to stay in the EU is the more sensible approach of certain of our European partners. I am suggesting that this government hasn’t got a clue.

Point Two – avoiding products in supermarkets

The Prop 37 poster highlights parent companies to certain natural or organic products that supported Monsanto point of view, i.e. anti-choice. This included household names in the UK, such as Heinz, Kellogs, Kraft and others.

I don’t buy a lot of stuff from these companies and would love to be able to avoid them, especially given their allegiance to the evil Monsanto and their anti-choice stance. The trouble comes when large food corporations buy or create subsidiary companies.

BUT there’s an app for that!

A Forbes report on the Apple and Android app Buycott. This piece of democracy in action allows you to scan an item on the supermarket shelf and it will display the corporate family tree for you.

So, if like me, you want to avoid Monsanto or Unilever or whatever nasty corporation, you can scan and avoid if a product throws up and unexpected corporate relationship. These companies do not believe in transparency but the App will reveal their little secrets. Great stuff.

The developers point out that they DO NOT tell consumers what to boycott, they simply provide the information. I like their style!

Buycott app screenshot
Buycott app screenshot from Google Play

This app was in Google Play store at the start of the month but there were problems. The developers underestimated the popularity of the app. It reached #10 in the App Store very quickly. They couldn’t cope with the 10 downloads per second!

It seems that people do care. Great stuff. Once I get this app I’ll review it on  the blog, I decided to wait until the fuss has died down a bit.

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