Wednesday, November 14, 2012

GMO Labeling Proposition Loses California Vote

Call me an idealist, but I was genuinely surprised when Proposition 37 failed to pass on November 6th. An item on the California ballot, it would have mandated the labeling of grocery items that contained genetically modified organisms. Not banned them or taxed them or anything like that; just said that consumers deserve to know what they're consuming.

I thought that, as a species, our thirst for knowledge could overcome anything. I mean, we're a society that can't go two hours without checking the weather, the traffic, Kim Kardashian's Twitter feed, you name it. We're obsessed with up-to-date information on just about everything. So how did a majority of people at the polls in California of all places manage to take a look at that ballot and say, "Eh. I don't really want to know what I'm eating. Let's keep a little mystery alive?"

The answer to that question can pretty much be boiled down to money, as so many things can. Combined with a little disorganization and naivite on the part of the "Yes" campaign, the immense (some sources say up to $45 million!) amount of money spent by Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and a handful of the other usual suspects managed to buy enough negative advertising to swing things their way.

But if there's nothing wrong with GMOs, why bother? If you have $45 million to spend, why not spend it on publicizing how great GMOs are and how you should buy them even if they are labeled as such? Or better yet, they could spend that $45 million dollars on, I don't know, research proving that GMOs aren't bad for us. No matter what the truth is about these foods, it’s important to try to find the truth, and the fact that the companies that sell them are not only trying to hide the truth from consumers, but are actually going out of their way not to find out the truth for themselves is alarming.

But now for the good news: the proposition made it onto the ballot. It got talked about. It's in the public eye, at least somewhat. And yes, it was voted down, but it was voted down 53% to 47%. That's pretty darned close. And from what I've read in the aftermath of all this is that the pro-labeling campaign is learning from its mistakes, gearing up for similar fights in other states using a different marketing strategy and better consolidation of funding.

So what do you think? If you live in California, how did you vote on Proposition 37? Why did you choose the way you did? Those of you everywhere else, did you know it was on the ballot or is this the first you're hearing about it? How would you vote if something similar came up in your state? Let me know in the comments section, and while you mull over your response, enjoy this amazing sarcastic rap video explaining what you need to know about genetic alteration and our food.

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