GMO Labeling Didn’t Win the Battle in California, but We Haven’t Lost the War

What a night! Democracy in action kept most of us up very late on a work night as we watched the results come in for president and the various state issues. Many of us woke this morning with a mix of emotions as some of our policies passed and some did not. One issue in particular that kept us on our toes and saddened us this morning was the vote on proposition 37 in the state of California. As it looks this morning, food will not have to be labeled indicating its inclusion of GMOs, genetically modified organisms that require labeling in more than 50 other countries.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on this issue, stating that 94 percent of precincts had reported and by a narrow margin voters said no to GMO labeling. This was a hard blow this morning for those in the yes movement, but those who have fought so diligently on the campaign are remaining optimistic.

“This is only the beginning of consumer enlightenment and transparency in the food supply. We will prevail now,” commented Leah Segedie, a volunteer with California Right to Know and founder of Mamavation.

As it can be with all political issues, it probably came down to money. Those who were opposing the labeling ballot did so by saying that it would cost the consumers more money if foods were forced to label. This side also had big financial backers. The biotech giants who produce GMOs helped contribute to the $42 million the no campaign raised. Companies such as Monsanto, DOW, and even major food companies like Pepsi Co. all chipped in from their deep pockets to make sure the people do not have the right to know what’s in the food they purchase. Some surprising companies have donated to the “no” side as well. Companies we all deem as healthy and natural such as Horizon Organic, Cascadian Farms, and Kashi all have supported the no labeling vote. This really make you wonder about our “health food” companies.

“Monsanto and the giant food corporations have only delayed the inevitable,” Segedie said. “The genie is out of the bottle. The everyday mom is now starting to learn about this thanks to the $42 million they spent trying to defeat us. They, in effect, created a p ublic service announcement that has moms and other consumers Googling ‘GMOs’ and the outcome to that is only help to us not them.”

Meanwhile the smaller but mighty yes campaign was mainly backed by concerned individuals and the organic industry, as well as a host of vocal celebrities. They campaigned with a budget of just $6.7 million. They were quite overpowered by the giants and their deep pockets. But not completely outnumbered. Last night’s vote on proposition 37 in California was only determined by 600,000 votes, a six percent difference in yes vs. no when 98.5 percent of precincts were reported.

This issue isn’t over. Those of us who feel strongly about this issue will soldier on and continue fighting. People like those running California Right to Know, Leah Segedie, and those of us at DIR. We have the right to boycott the food companies who supported the no vote and we have the right to honor those companies who voluntarily choose to label their food. The proposition on California’s ballot got much of the nation talking about this issue. Millions of people are more aware of this issue and one vote won’t stop this worthy fight. That’s the beauty of this country, right? If we don’t like something, we are given a voice and a chance to change it.

“The truth about GM food is all over the Internet,” said Segedie. “This is not the end.”

Also Read:

7 GMO Facts You Need to Know

Mark Bittman Proposes a Better Food Label

What is a GMO?

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