It appears that the big advertising push by big food companies defeated the California’s Proposition 37, a ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs).
The last few weeks has seen a stunning reversal of poll numbers in favor of Prop 37. Nationwide polls consistently show around 90% of Americans support GMO labeling, and a month ago California polls showed over 60% supported labeling.
Then, large food conglomerates pooled their funds to oppose to the measure and outspent the citizens Right to Know campaign nearly 6-to-1 ($45 million to $8 million).
Here is the list of the top donors that opposed labeling:
MONSANTO COMPANY $8,112,069
E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO. $5,400,000
PEPSICO, INC. $2,145,400
GROCERY MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION $2,002,000
BASF PLANT SCIENCE $2,000,000
BAYER CROPSCIENCE $2,000,000
DOW AGROSCIENCES LLC $2,000,000
SYNGENTA CORPORATION $2,000,000
KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL, INC. $1,950,500
NESTLE USA, INC. $1,461,600
COCA-COLA NORTH AMERICA $1,455,500
GENERAL MILLS, INC. $1,230,300
CONAGRA FOODS $1,176,700
KELLOGG COMPANY $790,700
SMITHFIELD FOODS, INC. $683,900
DEL MONTE FOODS COMPANY $674,100
CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY $598,000
Below is one of the many “Vote No on 37” commercials used to convince the public that labeling is not important:
Some radio spots even claimed that labeling would raise prices at the grocery stores in an attempt to scare voters. After this barrage of ads, polling as recent as two weeks ago showed less than 40% of the people still supported labeling GMOs with over 50% opposed to it.
As the final vote tallies come in from California, it looks like Big Business has bought themselves a seemingly impossible double-digit victory — currently leading 55% to 44% with 41% of the vote reporting.
By any standard this is an unprecedented turnaround in such a short period of time, especially for an issue that seems like an obvious “Yes” vote. Who would not want to know what’s in their food?
Some are already speculating that Prop 37 poll numbers were being fudged in the lead up to the vote to make stealing the vote less obvious. Although this would normally seem outrageous and conspiratorial, it seems nearly as believable as the miraculous last-minute win by Big Agribusiness.