How many millions of dollars does it take to buy an election? In the case of Monsanto, DuPont, Pepsi and other giants in agri-business, it takes about $45 million.
That’s how much these giants of the food industry spent to successfully defeat California Proposition 37, which would have required a label on genetically-modified foods (GMOs). In the end, the corporate-backed “No” campaign won out 53.1% to the grassroots “Yes” campaign’s 46.9%. And that’s a stark contrast from just a few months ago, when polls showed that California voters approved of the measure 3-to-1.
California would have been the first state in the United States to require such labeling, joining the European Union and several other nations across the globe in giving consumers the right to know if their foods are science experiments. In a country where 70-80% of foods are genetically modified in some way, and where the science on whether GMOs are safe or not isn’t 100% clear, California would have become a trailblazer in the food movement.
Before Mosanto et al.’s millions came around , polls showed that California voters approved of the measure 3-to-1. Then the ”No” campaign poured its money into television advertisements, like the one you’ll see on the next page.
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Deceptive advertising is nothing new in political campaigns, sure. But let’s point out some of the problems: the farmer in this video would not have been affected at all by the proposition — the labeling burden was placed on retailers. The scientist in this video, Henry I. Miller, is a fellow at the right-wing thinktank Hoover Institute, which is located on Stanford’s campus. Before the ad was pulled at the request of lawyers, Miller was given the credential of, “Stanford University, founding dir. FDA Office of Technology.”
Another issue? Monsanto’s campaign claimed that the food labels would cause the price of groceries to soar — perhaps the biggest clincher in changing the minds of voters. The problem, though? Well, we have plenty of case studies, to compare it to. The European Union’s food prices never went up as a result. Independent research, not funded by the deep pockets of Monsanto, saw no projected increase. The study they cited was not even performed by economists, but big-industry consultants.
The only donations to the “No on 37′ campaigns came from corporations. And, in the end, the corporate interests, not the interests of the people, won out in California. The “Yes on 37″ campaign was outspent 5-to-1. But there’s always next time — efforts are underway to put a similar measure on the ballot in Washington state.