Farm Press Blog

Prop 37 judgment day upon us

  • Polls show Prop 37 margin is closing.
  • Proponents coming out with ad campaign on election eve.
  • Campaign has provided opportunity to inform consumers about biotechnology.

Election day is almost here.

Prop 37 was still winning with the latest voter poll, but the margin has closed considerably. It was passing by only 8 percentage points a couple of weeks before the polls closed. At one time, polls had it passing by a 3 to 1 margin.

The No on 37 campaign is having an impact, especially the television ads with California doctors asking voters to reject the proposition.

Of course supporters of the proposition have yet to fire their first volley. This group has bought television time for the two weeks before the vote. Opponents are bracing for the scaremongering attack backlash to counter the No on 37 campaign.

If you have not asked your friends and neighbors to vote no on 37, do it now.

Opponents are taking great solace in the fact that some 40 newspapers have opposed Prop 37. Much of this, however, is because newspapers are fed up with California’s lawmaking by proposition.

I hope the initiative goes up in smoke. Regardless, the issue will not go away. The anti-GMO movement will always have legs, if not a scientific leg, to stand on. GMO agriculture will never be banned. The horse is out of sight of the barn with a majority of crops worldwide genetically modified and as much as 75 percent of what we eat coming from GMO crops — without one health incident.

However, agriculture and the companies who are developing GMO crops have a huge hole to escape from. The anti-GMO crowd long ago commandeered newspapers and television, creating a totally unwarranted hysteria. There are far too many consumers who oppose GMOs and cannot tell you exactly why. They can spout reasons fed to them without understanding what those reasons are.

An article regurgitated by the radicals had one person saying she did not want her food “grown in a laboratory.” Of course no one bothered to point out that traditional breeding is done in a laboratory, too.

My favorite was in the same article. An anti-GMO vote was a vote against “Bt toxins.” As anyone involved in agriculture understands, Bt is Bacillus thuringiensis.

Bt is a natural, soil-dwelling bacterium, commonly used as a biological pesticide. It also occurs naturally in the gut of caterpillars of various types of moths and butterflies, as well as on leaf surfaces, aquatic environments, animal feces, insect rich environments, flour mills and grain storage facilities. Bt is one of the most widely used pesticides in organic farming as well as conventional farming. Consumers were not given that information.

Facts like that and examples of the benefits of biotechnology have been widely publicized during the Prop 37 campaign.

One very good explanation of biotechnology has come from Richard Molinar, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Fresno County. Richard works with small farmers in the county. Western Farm Press has the report online.

Molinar’s report is entitled: "Classical Plant Breeding (Traditional) and Genetic Engineering – A Primer."

It is a very easy read and a must read for all consumers and a few organic growers, as well. Another good piece is a blog from Alex Berezow from Truth About Trade and Technology that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and is co-author of “Science Left Behind” (Public Affairs, 2012).

Here are a couple of excerpts from Berezow’s blog:

Scientists in New Zealand recently announced that they had welcomed into the world the newest genetically modified organism, or GMO: A cute, tailless cow named Daisy that produces low-allergy milk. The animal was engineered to address the problem of infant allergies to cow milk, which affect up to 3 percent of children in the developed world.

“In Africa, millions of people rely on bananas for food or as a source of income. However, a bacterium called Xanthomonas causes the disease BXW (banana Xanthomonas wilt) that devastates the crop. To prevent this, scientists engineered bananas with a gene from sweet pepper that provides resistance to BXW. The technology shows such promise and the threat posed by BXW is so great that last year Uganda waived its ban on GMOs so scientists could conduct field trials in the country.

“Genetic modification saved Hawaii’s papaya industry from the papaya ringspot virus. “Arctic apples,” which do not turn an unappetizing brown after they are sliced, are another recent invention.

“Truly, the innovations of biotechnology appear to be limited only by our imagination. Yet strong opposition exists to this revolutionary technology. Anti-biotechnology groups such as Greenpeace frequently mislead the public about GMOs by playing down the known benefits while overhyping small, theoretical risks. The result is that biotechnology is being held back by a scaremongering group of environmentalists who seem to think that saving the planet requires banning science and thwarting human progress.”

If good can be gleaned from Prop 37, it is more that information has been disseminated to the public in what hopefully will be a reversal of all the misinformation that has been fed to the public. 

Discuss this Blog Entry 24

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

Yo Harry,
Just be sure to feed all that great GMO food to your kids and grandkids and their pregnant wives. Stuff them with it. And then take a trip to the Monsanto plant in Suffolk, England where their cafeteria proudly displays a sign:
"We serve only organic food in the Monsanto cafeteria."

You are such a traitor to your species. Enjoy your blood money and the haunting of poisoned children.

Jim Friesen (not verified)
on Oct 26, 2012

European seed production is strictly non-gmo due to the ban on gmo's in those countries. they do not mix the breeding programs. Even European companies like Novartis, world's largest pharmasutical company and owner NK brands in the US promote their gmo's to the rest of the world.
People I talked to in Munich, said "our population trend is down, we have too much food, we don't need gmo's"
They don't but there are people in countries who are starving to death , Their farmers do not grow enough food, they are afraid of gmo's and they can not afford to buy either gmo or non gmo organic food. . Will you share your organic food with them? Do you have a plan to get enough organic food to feed the 9 billion people that are comming to the table? To share you food contact the "Food for the Poor" organization.
I share what , my 71 year old wife, our 5 children and their spouses and our 16 grandchildren and I an eat but it's all gmo. (By the way, our kids and spouses are all college grads, they run marathon's and grandkids are honor students and those that are in college are in honor programs.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

This blog seems to bypass the main point. Prop 37 is purely about labeling and a buyers right to know what they are buying. Nowhere is there any mention of banning GMO's

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

"blood money and the haunting of poisoned children" - what a crazy person. I have heard the exact same thing said of vaccinations. We should ban those too ,right? Literally crazy.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 3, 2012


Science Wins (not verified)
on Nov 5, 2012

Prop 37 is not a ban, maybe you should read the actual proposition. Numerous studies have shown links between very specific GMO consumption and a short list of chronic illnesses including several cancers and organ and glandular malfunction. What's crazy is that we Americans tend to think we are immune to what ails those in other countries, as though we are a different species or something. Please do real research. Labeling is perfectly fair. We label organics. If there is nothing wrong with GMO's, why are you so afraid to label? I suppose you think trans fats are pretty cool too?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

If you want to see "scaremongering" - just look at the NoProp37 ads. Nothing factual there, only political BS & Hyperbole!

Anonymous Californian (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

What I really find to be so disheartening about this issue is that not only are these major chemical companies potentially poisoning our crops and foods, they are also poisoning our public discourse on the topics of food safety. These major corporations have unlimited funds when it comes to promoting their own agenda, in this case the opposition to GMO labeling. All it takes for them is several million dollars (chump change to them) to put out a commercial with false statements to cloud the minds of voters.
If you really want to hear what real California farmers and citizens have to say about GMO labeling, check out… I don’t want to sound like I’m plugging anything here, but after checking out this group on facebook, I really think I found the truth about why it is important to label GMO foods.

Trevor (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

Is this guy nuts? Why shouldn't a consumer have the right to know what they are purchasing and then decide to buy or not? If someone wants to go and stuff their face with GMO products, let them. However, if you don't want to than you should have that right.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

dont ban GMO..... just label it..
US food companies provide this information to foreign countries, i guess we should be kept in the dark.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

Food companies... sell whatever you want.... just label it

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

Fine, keep being creative, just let us know what the F... we're eating so we can decide.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2012

You should be ashamed. GMOs are NOT used worldwide as they are in the U.S. and the U.S. has experienced a dramatic rise in cancer, allergies, early onset puberty, "ADD", and a host of other health issues since GMOs were introduced in the '90s. The additional costs of GMO labeling in Europe were ONLY 2/10s of one percent - that's .002 -- well worth it. This is America. We have a right to know what is in our food. What are Monsanto, Coke, General Foods, etc. so afraid of anyway?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 26, 2012

You are an idiot. GMO's are used by 11 of the 12 million farmers world wide, it is not just the US. Cancer rates are a very complicated topic, but ultimately, there is more of a "rise" due to our ageing population, and our ability to detect cancer getting better. People have always been at risk for cancer, we just didn't always identify it as the cause of death. The other issue is that a lot of the detected cancers would not have impacted the persons life, since they would say kill you after 100 years, but these get lumped into the stats (with good reason, so we can try and find more prevention and detection methods), but it skews the stats and makes it look like we have a rising issue. To date there has never been any linkage in the scientific community between genetically modified food and heath issues, and there have been 1000's of studies that have tried to find one.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2012

Absolutely mind boggling that you, Monsanto, and its minions can tell us, with teeth still in the mouth, that GMO is safe. Just like their Agent Orange was safe. Just like doctors smoking cigarettes in the 1950s was safe. Even nuclear radiation was deemed safe until years after the fact when they finally found it could cause cancer.
Our lives are on the line with this GMO experiment on all of us.
I agree with your readers, please feed it to your family for 5 years, then come back and tell us everything is cool with them.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2012

Do you know what scares me the most about the Prop 37 movement? It's having to live on the same planet with the mob crowd of hysterical food anarchists who for no reason other than snooty elitism would gladly, and with no guilt in the plight of their fellow man, reduce the world's potential food supply of nutritious, healthy food in order to satisfy their ignorance based movement of food elitism because it is a FACT that it will become more difficult and expensive to produce the overall food supply if the the onerous, costly and totally unnecessary regulations contained in Prop 37 take hold. It is a cynical form of economic bigotry by a small group who know that they can more than afford the increased food costs that will be passed on to all if Prop 37 passes. But they could care less about those who will be least able to afford those added costs. If they get their way, snooty-ism and elitism wins, science and reason loses, the minority dictates to the majority, and we all take on the financial burden of higher food costs due to their intellectual immaturity.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2012

Why don't you eat GMO's? My understanding is that you eat organic food with the monies your making off of those eating GMO foods.

Farmerp (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2012

I recently came back from a 3 week trip to Ukraine where a farmer told me that his grain comes from ground so poisoned by the "Vietnam chemicals" (Agent Orange) that when the mice come and eat it, they die. He said he finds dead mice around the piles of grain all the time. Yay for chemical farming world wide. That is what will create the famines. Watch the movie Genetic Roulette. Read the recently released French Study on GMO's and then tell me I don't have the right to choose something else. I do have the right to know what is in my food so that I can make that choice.

ChemieBabe (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2012

Where is this farmer in Ukraine getting Agent Orange? I would suspect the Russian goverment has been dumping all kinds of chemical waste in the area. They have done that in some parts of Russia with very bad results for the people who live there.

The French study is seriously flawed, but most Americans don't know how a scientific study is done.

I do agree that Food Elitists will make healthy food too expensive for the poor. But there are too many of "those" people anyway. Let's just call it Birth Control! I would way rather have elephants and pristine forests than poor people in my neighborhood.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 26, 2012

what a horrible thing to say!!!! You are seriously flawed and at the root of what is wrong with this Country! You are an elitist ass!

Craig (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2012

I keep arguing with my fellow farmers about how Prop 37 means increased sales of conventional food to a public wary of GMOs, whether there is any basis for that fear or not.
I don't care about anything but increasing sales of what I grow. There is an article in the Fresno Bee about many growers and dairymen supporting Prop 37 for this very reason. Prop 37 = more money for growers. I'm sorry if it means less for biotech, they've had their run.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 26, 2012

There is concern by Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus in microbial biology at Pudue University that overuse of Roundup has created a new microscopic pathogen that is showing up in RR corn and soybeans and leading to spontaneous abortions in livestock. In January 2011 he wrote to Sec of Ag Vilsack expressing his concerns and encouraging the delay of approval of RR alfalfa. His concerns were ignored and it was approved. Google Dr. Huber and listen to him explain the science and his concerns. He's an extremely credible scientist. Then do a little research on the rise of super weeds and the plan to use 2 4 D, the chemical in the infamous Agent Orange, to create a new class of herbicide resistant crops that can be sprayed to handle the super weeds. I worked in agribiz for one of the major seed cos. during the time Monsanto developed and released RR seeds. Roundup was coming off patent and Monsanto was looking for a way to extend that cash cow. They bought seed cos. to control GEnetic stock and used the emerging GMO technology not to feed the world, but to keep their franchise. This set off a buying spree and at the end of the day all the major commodity seed companies were owned by chemical giants. I believe that early innovators like Henry Wallace who developed hybrid corn would be appalled. So Californians we're looking to you to sensibly vote for labeling.

J.F. (not verified)
on Oct 26, 2012

Don Hubers has failed to present evidence to the scientific community to support his claims or to allow his claims to be investigated by other scientist. Many scientist, including other Purdue scientist, have discredited this work. I also find it surprising that for someone who claims to have worked in Agrobisuness, you don't know that 2,4-D has safely been used for years as a selective herbicide in both home and commercial applications. That's right, it can be bought by homeowners at your local home and garden store. I also believe that if you or Henry Wallace had spent millions of dollars on a technology (because of an unbelievably stringent regulatory process) to help farmers increase yields and make production more efficient, you would want a patent to protect your investment. I encourage you to research both sides of the issue before choosing to vote on a proposition that would open the gates to frivolous lawsuits (the real issue here).

Bobby Yazzie (not verified)
on Oct 29, 2012

I would like get some informtion and if have catalog I would like to recieve one; Box 310, Rock Point Arizona 86545

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