As the dust continues to settle after the defeat of California’s Prop. 37, the deceptive genetically engineered food labeling initiative, the recriminations endlessly abound among those on the losing side.
They give many reasons for the defeat of Prop. 37, namely the $45 million barrage of TV ads, mailers, and Internet pop-ups “nearly all of which were outright dishonest and misleading,” with the giant agchem companies leading the charge, if you believe Ken Cook. Cook is president of the Environmental Working Group, a green organization responsible for its own “Dirty Dozen list” of misinformation that has scared off consumers from eating healthy fruits and vegetables – but I digress.
Agriculture should feel relieved that Prop. 37 went down by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin. However, this is no time to gloat. Any hint at celebration will merely serve to stiffen the resolve of anti-GMO proponents. In fact, Prop. 37’s defeat seems to have re-energized their commitment to label all GMO (genetically modified organisms) grocery products. This despite the fact that federal food agencies, medical groups and the scientific community assure us GMO foods – that we have been eating for years – are safe and healthy and no different from conventionally grown crops.
(For more, see: Proposition 37 defeat great victory for agriculture, truth)
Anti-GMO crusaders are now promising to take their campaign to other states, earmarking the state of Washington as their next drive, and attempting to get a draft into the U.S. farm bill at the federal level. “People must know what they are eating,” their mantra goes.
The reason the measure was doomed from the get-go was because of the simple truth it contained a list of secondary language that involved: the “natural” designation of processed foods; restaurant food was exempt from labels while the exact same store-bought food had to be tagged; created a cottage industry for lawyers seeking to line their own pockets from frivolous lawsuits; and placed the monkey squarely on the back of innocent grocers and retailers who would have been forced to check each food item delivery for GMO ingredients – and in many cases could very well have been sued for nothing having to do with genetically engineered ingredients.
Where it went wrong
Here’s where I think the anti-GMO crowd went wrong. They were not expecting that the vast majority of daily newspapers in California, with millions of readers (spelled voters), would come out opposed to the initiative. In hindsight, we need to give a lot of credit to the independent news media that took the time to investigate and research Prop. 37. Apparently they quickly came to the conclusion that the measure was poorly written and would open up a Pandora’s box of litigation that would make the lawsuits from California’s Prop. 65 look like child’s play. (Recall those signs posted throughout buildings in California warning you that the structure “contains material that has been determined to be carcinogenic.” Lawyers are still having a heyday settling out-of-court Prop. 65 lawsuits – which have produced many millionaires.)
Anyway, back to the editorial boards. In this arena I’ll share my decades of journalistic experience with you. Regardless of what you might have heard (or attempted to be spun),editorial opinions are not for sale. Opinion editors at the largest newspapers in our state take tremendous pride in their objectiveness and honesty and do ask questions and research their editorials before publication. I know. I have worked for several large papers on the West Coast, and even been in the position of writing such editorials, and editorial editors who are “on the take” are eventually ferreted out and fired. And this is the reason that I know for certain that Prop. 37 was a bad and poorly written proposition.
This is my response to the Yes on Prop. 37 crowd; by the numbers a small sampling of major California newspapers who did not agree with the passage of Prop. 37: The L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, La Opinión, San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Tribune, Oakland Tribune, Orange County Register (a Republican-leaning media outlet), San Bernardino Sun, the Fresno Bee, the Riverside Press Enterprise, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the Los Angeles Daily News, Modesto Bee, Merced Sun-Star, Bakersfield Californian, the Ventura County Star and on and on. Get the message?
There just is no way in the world that giant food producers or deep-pocketed agricultural chemical companies bribed all these respected daily journalists to “stack the deck” against the Yes on Prop. 37 campaign.
Cook of the Environmental Working Group would have you believe the ballot measure lost on “technicalities.” Well, those “technicalities” must have been very contagious as well as very obvious for more than 30 major California newspapers to interpret them as “flaws” and therefore not worthy of a “Yes” vote.
Furthermore, consider this. A case might be made about California’s “liberal media” being too biased. However, isn’t knowing what food content goes inside your body a liberal cause? It orbits around consumers’ rights to know – a very basic American tenet. However, in this case, the “liberal media” just wasn’t buying it.