California Voters Reject Prop 37
Despite leading in the polls until shortly before the election, a California ballot initiative which would have required the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the state fell short, 53% to 47%. Proponents of Proposition 37 relied on a grassroots campaign and strong early support, but were outspent 5 to 1. Monsanto Company, the largest contributor to "No on 37," pitched in $8.1 million-almost singlehandedly matching the total amount raised by "Yes on 37." Biotechnology and agrochemical companies made up six of the top 10 "No on 37" funders, including DuPont ($5.4 million), Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, BASF Plant Science, and Syngenta ($2 million each).
Support for GMO labeling has consistently been strong, both in California and nationally, and early polls showed Prop 37 winning by a comfortable margin. The tables turned when opponents made a late push with, as the Center for Food Safety put it in their post-election press release, a "corporate cash-fueled barrage of TV and radio ads."
"Although a lot of biased ads about candidates didn't seem to be effective, over $46 million of lies, fear tactics and distortions about food production carried the day for agribusiness," said Phil Bereano, Professor Emeritus of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington and co-founder of the Council for Responsible Genetics. "But 4.2 million Californians voted for labeling and the issue is now really out in the open. I think we have to bring the issue to legislators in many states and make it a real topic for serious politics."