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Monsanto Throws GMO Victory Party in California

Eco Watch / News Analysis
Published: Wednesday 7 November 2012
“Genetically engineered foods found on market shelves have most commonly been altered in a lab to either be resistant to being sprayed by large amounts of toxic herbicides, or to produce, internally, their own insecticide,” explains Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute.
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After a deluge of allegedly misleading advertisements paid for in large part by pesticide and biotechnology corporations, California voters defeated Proposition 37, which would have given them the right–to-know whether the foods they buy at the grocery store contain genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs).

With 95 percent of the vote counted, according to the California Secretary of State’s office, the proposal was defeated 53-47 percent.

“Genetically engineered foods found on market shelves have most commonly been altered in a lab to either be resistant to being sprayed by large amounts of toxic herbicides, or to produce, internally, their own insecticide,” explains Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute.

“Corporations that produce both the genetically engineered crops and their designer pesticides, in concert with the multi-billion-dollar food manufacturers that use these ingredients, fought this measure tooth and nail, throwing $46 million at the effort that would have required food manufacturers to include informational labeling on GMO content on their packaging,” Kastel added.

Many food activists nationwide looked to the California initiative as “the last best hope” for GMO labeling in this country. Such labeling is required throughout Europe, and by scores other countries worldwide. In the U.S., polls indicate that more than 90 percent of citizens support labeling and the right to choose if they have not been deluged by misleading advertisements paid for by biotechnology corporations. But both Republicans and Democrats in Washington have been unwilling to address the issue, likely due to massive campaign contributions from the biotechnology and agribusiness lobbies.

The failure of Proposition 37 does not leave consumers completely in the dark about genetically engineered (GE) foods, since foods without GE ingredients are already widely available and clearly carry the USDA “organic” seal. Federal law prohibits the use of GE seed or ingredients in any product labeled “organic.”

In some ways, the “organic” label goes much further than what Proposition 37 would have required, since organic meat, milk and eggs must come from animals that were not treated with GE hormones and fed a diet that is free of GE ingredients. Proposition 37 would not have required labels on meat, milk and eggs from animals given GMO feed. Alcoholic beverages were also not covered under proposition 37. Organically labeled beer, wine and spirits are increasingly available in the marketplace.

“Organic foods are already required by federal law to be free from genetic engineering,” says Steven Sprinkel, an organic farmer in Ojai, California who fought for prop 37 passage. “And the icing on the organic cake is that certified organic foods are also grown without a long list of dangerous and toxic chemicals and pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other drugs that are routinely used in conventional agriculture.”

Despite its defeat, Proposition 37 achieved at least one of its goals. The question on the ballot, which forced biotechnology corporations and food manufacturers to defend their experimentation with our food supply and with public health, has likely increased awareness about GE foods among California consumers.

The biotechnology and food manufacturing industry’s efforts to defeat Proposition 37 revealed just how terrified these corporations were of consumers knowing what they are eating.

“If corporations truly believed that genetically engineering our food supply is in society’s best interest, they should be happy for consumers to know which foods contain their genetically engineered materials,” says Cornucopia’s Kastel. “Their obvious fear of people knowing what they’re eating raises serious questions about their products’ safety, and more and more consumers are making that connection.”

The campaign to label genetically engineered foods also shed light on the dedication to organic principles, or lack thereof, by the corporate ownership of many iconic organic brands. For weeks, organic consumers have flooded consumer relations phone lines and Facebook pages of organic and “natural” brands such as Horizon Organic (Dean Foods), Silk (Dean Foods), Kashi (Kellogg) and Cascadian Farm (General Mills) when they learned that the corporate owners of these brands were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat Proposition 37.

In what turned out to be a David and Goliath campaign fight, a diversified group of independent food manufacturers, retailers and activists that espouse their commitment to the principles of sustainable agriculture and to producing healthy, wholesome and pure food, stepped up to the plate by making contributions to the “Yes on 37” campaign.

Consumers can view a scorecard illustrating the financial contributions of various organic brands. “We hope this information will empower consumers to vote in the marketplace and support the true heroes in this industry,” Kastel added.

Meanwhile, some corporations that should have stepped up to the plate gave token contributions at the eleventh hour. Whole Foods, a corporation with net sales as high as Monsanto’s—both have approximately $11 billion in annual sales—contributed a mere $25,000, just two business days before the election, Cornucopia noted in its research. On the other hand, Monsanto contributed $8,113,000 to the “No on 37″ campaign effort.

“Had we seen the same level of enthusiasm for consumers’ right-to-know from Whole Foods as we saw against the right-to-know from Monsanto, the playing field would have been more level, and the misleading information spewed by giant corporate agribusinesses would quite possibly not have prevailed on election day,” said Kastel. “Meaningful participation from Whole Foods could have been a game changer.”


Cornucopia encourages organic consumers who shop at Whole Foods to continue doing so. Rather than boycott the multi-billion-dollar corporate food retailer, Cornucopia encourages Whole Foods shoppers to write corporation leadership, through their website, and share their discontent with the major retailer’s unwillingness to fully step up to the plate on financially supporting the “Yes on 37” campaign.

In its annual report for shareholders, Whole Foods writes, “We walk our talk when it comes to our core values.” Whole Foods shareholders should be concerned with the corporation’s lackluster participation in this “food fight of the decade,” when they passed up an opportunity to walk their talk and refused to step up to the plate in terms of financial support for this grassroots effort. “It will remain to be seen whether Whole Foods has squandered some of their goodwill,” Kastel lamented.

Many consumers who do feel betrayed might seek out one of the country’s almost 300 member-owned co-ops, or one of the iconic independent natural food grocers for purchases of organic, non-GMO food.

Visit EcoWatch’s GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM page for more related news on this topic.

A number of people were not

A number of people were not initially in favor of this, like David Bronner. Why weren't they?

As a friend of mine said: "I don't believe a law that has an enforcement strategy of private lawsuits against grocery stores is wise or effective."

Interesting...According to an

Interesting...According to an article on by Sec. of State Debra Bowen on Nov.9 at 7:15 a.m.,over 3 MILLION of unprocessed ballots remained uncounted.Yet this article,written Nov. 6 states her office said 95% of votes were counted?
Read about the voter fraud going on in California,as written by Jon Rappaport here-VOTE FRAUD: WHO DESTROYED PROP 37 ON ELECTION NIGHT? Associated Propaganda?

Mr Folta believes the biotech

Mr Folta believes the biotech industry is the new and improved Creator.1; and that GMO stands for "God, move over."

My take is that it's Folta's

My take is that it's Folta's job to exploit ignorance. Part of that is to ignore, and divert attention away from, the Precautionary Principle. Played out successfully, this strategy will ultimately result in inter-generational horrors, most notably cancer and infertility. This is exactly what happens consistently to 2nd and 3rd-generation lab animals when fed exclusively transgenic products over time. The only way to realize the consequences of human beings ingesting purposely mutated food OVER TIME and with any certainty is to feed a large group of people ONLY GM phude for decades against a control group eating ONLY 100% organically-produced food for the same period. Nothing of the kind has been reported AS A STUDY. If it has been done, it has not and will not be reported if the biotech industry has anything to do with it. They already squash (suppress), smear (discredit) and rant at the slightest expression of doubt over the safety of GMOs while they pretend to be a rational voice. This self-serving behavior is integral to their business (a “Cost of Doing Business”). The "study" is instead being done on the unknowing masses already suffering with epidemic digestive disorders and auto-immune diseases such as IBD and Crohns. Since GM food products (phude) are unlabeled, it is scientifically unacceptable to make and express the connection. That is the explanation for the intense disinformation blasts (propaganda) which took down Proposition 37 and the multi-millions being spent to bribe and deceive politicians into keeping it unlabeled. Bottom Line for the chemical and biotech industries: KEEP THE REVENUE STREAM COMING AND DESTROY ANYTHING THAT THREATENS IT. Eating in the dark makes Folta's job not just easier, but possible at all. No scientist with integrity ignores the Precautionary Principle like Folta does, especially one who takes it on themselves to broadcast encouragement to wide internet audiences to just go ahead and eat genetically altered grains, fruits and vegetables. The science necessary to safely and precisely alter food at the DNA level, in order to achieve environmentally sustainable, specific, beneficial-to-human traits AND NO OTHER INADVERTENT ONES, is a LONG way away from away from being clear enough to say “You can eat this with no concern”. In my opinion any other posture on this is pure sociopathic greed with a monstrous cost.

In California we lost the

In California we lost the battle but made huge strides toward winning the war.
We simply didn't get enough of the really effective pro-37 and anti-Monsanto-smear ads and videos and leaflets made and distributed in time.

Monsanto's smear tactics should have been analyzed and rebutted sooner, but now nationwide we'll be better prepared from here on.

I don't watch TV but I was mailed impressive glossy Monsanto propaganda focused on graphic would-be puzzler example situations that allegedly showed Prop 37 to be inconsistent. However the puzzlers in fact exploited popular ignorance about existing California food labeling law, as well as inability to envisage various plausible situations involving GE and non-GE foods.

In particular, the would-be puzzlers were largely of three types, like the following examples. (1) Labeling could be required for a grocery potato but not restaurant french fries. [Solution to this 'puzzler': Prop 37 was carefully written to be CONSISTENT with all other Ca food labeling - which applies only to food products as retailed, not to food thereafter further prepared and presented, e.g. in or delivered by restaurants or hospitals.] (2) Labeling could fail to be required for a whole chicken yet could be required for the 'same' chicken in a pot pie. [Solution: The chicken could fail to be GE, but the wheat in the pot-pie flour might very well be GE.] (3) Labeling could be required for a carton of soy milk but not for a carton of milk of a GE-fed cow. [Solution: the soy could be GE but the cow, though fed GE feed, need not itself be GE.]

Although the pro-37 campaign did not effectively rebut such puzzles soon enough and widely enough, the campaign for Prop 37 - and the material that made its rounds in its support - especially the video Genetic Roulette - has galvanized many of us to not merely intellectually worry about GE organisms but to adamantly reject them.

One of the article's points is most telling: “If corporations truly believed that genetically engineering our food supply is in society’s best interest, they should be happy for consumers to know which foods contain their genetically engineered materials,” says Cornucopia’s Kastel. “Their obvious fear of people knowing what they’re eating raises serious questions about their products’ safety, and more and more consumers are making that connection.”

And there is nothing to stop another campaign - maybe not soon to all voters in California, but maybe in one or another of the other states - or perhaps even in the California legislature or executive branch.

The GE proponents don't know how well off they are in being targeted so far merely with the prospect of an informational label. If they keep on trying to obstruct such an innocent demand, they will find themselves confronting much more serious challenges.

#1) GMO s are toxic. #2) GMO

#1) GMO s are toxic. #2) GMO s alter the environment, including plants grown in nearby locations. #3) GMO s crops are typically sprayed with herbicides such as Roundup. This enters the environment, the water, the air, the soil. #4 GMO s are in essence trespassers. #5 Organic constitutes an entire growing scheme which includes natural soil, natural pest and blight abatements. #6) Not organic does not mean GMO. Bob's Red Mill claims no GMO, organnic or otherwise. #7) GMO s are for the most part proprietary seed. #8 GMO s are part of a multi faceted front to facilitate a two class system; the elite and the peasant. The peasant class has only one function and that is to facilitate the state's agenda. When the non-elite cannot be of service to the state that non-elite will be illiminated. Do you wish that for yourself? Do you wish that for your friends? Do you wish that for your family? Do you wish for your children this kind of bondage?

Every time I reach for that

Every time I reach for that little USDA organic label that big agri thought it was so smart to demand, every time I know that the food I am eating has some expensive, nearly impossible quality standards - I laugh!

Hope it backfires in their smug, people devastating faces bigtime.

. . . Before reading the

. . . Before reading the comments I said to may have won today........and if you're smart you'll cut back because there is always a you sway legislation over a period of time.....that also works the other way...........and then you can think of the damages you will be "required" to pay........

This is not over. Slow Food,

This is not over. Slow Food, organic food and farmer's markets are more popular than ever. This election only serves to help educate the ignorant. No rational person wants to eat genetically modified food.

The fact that 47% voted for

The fact that 47% voted for this shows that educating the ignorant is not working. The science is real-- there is no demonstrated harm from transgenic crops. Labeling as in Prop37 is not a solution.

As a scientist that has studied GM foods for 25 years, I have no reservations about eating the stuff. Not at all.

"The fact that 47% voted for

"The fact that 47% voted for this shows that educating the ignorant is not working." You got that one right "Kevin" since it shows that 53% are still ignorant.

Good for you, take that very

Good for you, take that very obvious and likely risk of cancer; I, however, reach for the organic and the farmer down the road.

Oddly, I don't have symptoms of lupus since I started this diet about 5 years ago......

Suggestion: In this article,


In this article, and similar ones to come, you should make available the URL'S

of the corporations involved, such as Monsanto and Whole Foods, in this one,

so that the reader can immediately contact the corporations to express your


Lets just keep putting it on

Lets just keep putting it on the Ballot in many states. That will at least cost Monsanto some of its profits, also it will probably pass because most peoplr want it labeled.

I did see the ads on a visit

I did see the ads on a visit to CA a couple of weeks and they were obviously I thought they would be since there were un-contested by ANY yes on 37 ads.

Thanks a BUTTLOAD, "Whole Paycheck"!

The sheeple(tm) were convinced by the constant ad barrage that their FOOD WOULD COST MORE MONEY if they voted yes. No reason was given, just that constant barrage of ads with a slasher music background warning people against higher food prices...

$25 MILLION + worth of them...

Emotions trump rational thought everytime in ignorant USAmerica...

I'm just dumb-founded as to

I'm just dumb-founded as to people's reasons for not supporting this proposition---or were they just ignorant of it's intention and voted blindly?
Not being from CA, I didn't see the Monsanto funded ads. Did they somehow convince citizens that it would cost them $$? Why would anyone want LESS information as to the true nature of the food they will consume?

Hi Kay. I can answer your

Hi Kay. I can answer your question. Most people that voted for this didn't read it. The "Findings and Declarations" part was horribly written, non-scientific, and included issues not related to GM foods. The monitoring and enforcement creates a new bureaucracy in a state that is broke. The legal process was such that it encouraged frivolous lawsuits. It had LOADS of exemptions, including restaurants that didn't have to label GMO food (if you really want a right to know, then why not there?). The Act could not be repealed or amended except by a supermajority and only in the direction of its original intent. It also included labels on food derived from non-recombinant-DNA techniques, like nuclear fusions... I could go on and on. It was awful legislation written by lawyers and activists, without consulting a scientist.

Now that that's behind us I'm encougaing efforts to drive voluntary labeling with scientifically appropriate verbiage. I call it Proposition 37.1. This makes sense.

@kevinfolta "The monitoring


"The monitoring and enforcement creates a new bureaucracy in a state that is broke. "

The same argument was used when we decided it was a good thing to put the ingredients on food labels too.

You're arguments are not convincing, and your continued advertisement for a website with "science" in the URL to your own writings, pathetic and at best pitiful. You don't constitute canonical science.

For those of you reading, the link KF gives also contains the very scientific discussion about:

"God's Place In Fundamental Emergence" where the author talks about science and ontology in a philosophical sense in the same breath, trying to merge the two. It's just creationism in one of its many forms, made to sound "scientific" to those unaware of what science is and what science does. There is no scientific evidence of a 'creator' being.

Mr Folta apparently believes

Mr Folta apparently believes the biotech industry is the new and improved Creator.1 and that GMO stands for "God, move over."

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