California voters have defeated Prop 37, that would have required labels on genetically modified foods. The final vote was 53 to 47 percent. A few months ago, polls showed the measure was favored more than two-to-one. But a huge campaign by opponents of the measure, mostly pesticide and processed food manufacturers, chipped away at that lead over time. The “No on 37” campaign spend more than $45.6 million. The “Yes on 37” campaign spent $8.9 million.
Monsanto, the pesticide and chemical manufacturer, spent almost as much as the entire “Yes on 37” campaign, with $8.112 million. DuPont was the second highest spender, with $5.4 million.
Groups on the “Yes” side included Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, and United Farm Workers. They argued that consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they eat.
Kristin Lynch, spokesperson for Food & Water Watch, released a statement on the defeat that said, “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. 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.”
She continued, “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.”
The American Medical Association has called for the testing of GE foods because there are no long-term studies on the safety of these products. In almost 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and the European Union, GMO foods are labeled. And the World Health Organization is concerned about three issues with these foods: allergenicity, gene transfer, and outcrossing.