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Why a Failed GMO Ballot Measure Still Matters

Why a Failed GMO Ballot Measure Still Matters

So Prop 37 failed. California won’t be labeling GMOs. On election night, my reaction to this news was extreme disappointment. How could voters actually elect to keep themselves uninformed? I just didn’t understand. But then it hit me: a lot of people are much less familiar with the issues surrounding GMOs than I’d like to think. This may sound like a depressing realization, but it actually gave me hope.

Prop 37′s failure is due in large part to the massive misinformation campaign led by Monsanto that, in true Orwellian fashion, claimed that labeling GMOs is deceptive. And they outspent the pro-Prop 37 crowd five to one. According to this article from the Huffington Post, Monsanto and its ilk illegally used the USDA seal to suggest that the USDA supported their position. They claimed that labeling GMOs would raise the cost of food, though an independent economic analysis concluded that it would not. They argued that there is no proof of the ill health effects of GMOs, though numerous reports suggest otherwise.

So why am I hopeful? Because those are the reasons that Prop 37 failed. Not because voters understood the issue and voted it down anyway. In this country, we are tragically uninformed about where our food comes from. We’ve turned over control of our food supply to massive corporations. It’s much easier and more convenient to simply microwave whatever these corporations peddle to us than it is to take the time to cook and think about where our food comes from. Therefore, many of us have traded our ability to make informed decisions about what we eat for convenience.

The key, then, is education. People don’t want to eat food that is potentially harmful – but they don’t know they’re doing it. Or at least they don’t realize the extent to which they’re doing it. If more people genuinely understood just how appalling genetically modified foods really are, if they understood the process by which cell walls are broken down and injected with foreign DNA, I’m confident they wouldn’t choose to eat GMOs.

It’s not apathy that we’re fighting, then, but a lack of education. And I don’t entirely blame the American people for this. To an extent, it’s certainly the responsibility of individuals to educate themselves. However, the corporate food system has been so successful in marketing its food-like products to us that many Americans don’t even realize there’s anything to educate themselves about.

And this is why Prop 37 is significant, despite its failure. Even though many voters were misled by the campaign spearheaded by Monsanto, Prop 37 brought the issue to larger stage. National media outlets covered it. The dialog surrounding the GMO controversy has reached a new level. Prop 37 demonstrated that there are enough concerned Americans to bring the issue to a vote. And although Prop 37 failed to gain enough support to pass, it brought the issue into the national consciousness. Many times, controversial issues such as this fail to pass the first time around. But after a few more states bring the issue to a vote, eventually change happens. Prop 37 was the first step toward achieving that change.

How Monsanto Bought the Election

Read more: Eating for Health, Food, News & Issues, , , , ,

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


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1:12AM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

I'm sorry to say that there is a huge lack of education in America - however that is the fault of the government not the people. Regardless, yes, the power has been handed over to the massive corporations, but due to websites like Care2 and people all over the world who are fed up of being lied to, the truth is starting to come out. Thanks for sharing your hope with us!

8:51AM PST on Nov 25, 2012

Thank you...Prop. 37 must not be forgotten!

8:17AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you"

You cannot currently send a star to Marie because you have done so within the last week.

8:15AM PST on Nov 21, 2012

thank you

9:20AM PST on Nov 18, 2012

Thank you for posting this article, Sarah. Cross-posted to the Care2 anti-GMO group - please join if you care about stopping the spread of GMO's.

6:18PM PST on Nov 16, 2012


6:16PM PST on Nov 16, 2012


10:50AM PST on Nov 16, 2012

The bill failed because it was so badly written. Hopefully someone will continue to take up the fight and get it right.

10:54AM PST on Nov 15, 2012

So true! Thanks for the article.

3:09AM PST on Nov 15, 2012

"lack of education", that sums it up! America used to be the epitome of education.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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