Fight Evil Mutant Corn With Facebook Promote And Prop 37

Prop 37 is on the California Ballot. It seems inoffensive enough – all it requires is for food in California to be labelled if it contains genetically modified stuff. Some sixty countries already require this, including all of Europe, Japan, Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Not here, though. Not if the huge food companies can stop it. Nearly $35 million has been raised to defeat Prop 37, with at least $1 million each from companies like Monsanto, Dupont, Pepsi, Nestle, Coca Cola and Conagra. General Mills, Del Monte, Kellogg, Hershey, Smucker, Ocean Spray, Sara Lee and lots of other big food companies have also made large donations.

Supporters of Prop 37 have raised just $4.1 million.

Some people think genetically altered food is just fine, and they may be right. But there’s at least some evidence that it isn’t fine. And while we’re figuring that out, what’s wrong with simply telling consumers what’s actually in the food they’re eating?

Nothing’s wrong with that. Unless you’re a huge food company that uses tons (literally) of genetically modified food in your products and don’t want people to know that.

Tech entrepreneur Ali Partovi, who’s long been interested in the intersection of food and technology, is trying to even the playing field for Prop 37.

First, he’s matching every dollar in donations to support Prop 37. Donate here on indiegogo -“Kick the mutant asses out of your food!” (you have to watch the video above to get the double entendre). Indiegogo is an excellent crowdfunding platform for causes that allows matching funds.

But Partovi is also using Facebook to help spread awareness. He’s asking people to post their thoughts on Facebook and include “Yes on 37 Contest Entry” in the update.

And if you really want to support Prop 37, he’s asking you to use the new Facebook Promote feature where you can pay $7 to make sure more of your Facebook friends and subscribers see your message.

Why Facebook? Says Partovi “My goal is to run ads on Facebook, where you can’t fool people with deceptive ads, because the community’s opinions speak louder.”

Partovi has a good point. We live in a democracy, but too often huge corporations dictate how that democracy works. We can use technology to make it all work again. And what happens in California can snowball into change throughout the U.S.:

What happens in California doesn’t stay in California:

This is just the start. If passed, Prop 37 will benefit not just California but all Americans. To cite Michael Pollan’s brilliant NY Times essay, this is the moment of truth for a much larger nationwide movement.

This vote is also symbolic, because it is not Democrat vs Republican, but people against big corporations. Voters from all points of view care about what they feed their families, and Prop 37 has strong support from both ends of the political spectrum.

What hinges on the outcome is whether the people in this country can take back control of the system. I’m using Indiegogo, the open, global crowd-funding platform, because even outside America, watchful eyes are waiting to see what happens.

We are California. We are the pioneers. We are the creatives and the risk-takers. If anybody can figure out how to win this, we can. Prop 37 FTW!

Do this. Fight the evil mutant corn. Even if it is sort of delicious.

61 thoughts on “Fight Evil Mutant Corn With Facebook Promote And Prop 37

  1. JP says:

    “We live in a democracy, but too often huge corporations dictate how that democracy works.”
    And that’s why? In large part (but not exclusively) due to ballot measures. Here in SF, come a big election, we receive a 250+ page pamphlet that explains the propositions put in front of us. Expecting what – that voters eagerly soak up every page to be able to make informed decisions? So of course vested interests take a stab right at it.
    Ballot measures also lead to the erosion of the power of the elected representatives. So people with great judgment and all the attributes we’d hope to see and expect in the candidates put in front of us, will make a judgment call and look for other things to keep them interested. That leaves us with? “Sacramento politicians” who never really make the transition to the format of elected officials, offering yet another juicy target for corporate influence taking.
    Long story short: Ballot measures as a vehicle for political will absolutely need to go. I don’t care about the merits. Have elected representatives duke it out and keep the ability to hold them fully accountable. The way things stand right now, from the big corp perspective, it’s a divide and conquer scenario that’s easily exploited.

  2. Glenn Kelman says:

    What if the corn has been genetically modified through aggressive, selective breeding? Should that corn be labeled? Jared Diamond noted that the original ear of corn was about the size of your thumb-nail and that the process of breeding sweeter, higher-yielding crops began thousands of years ago, through a process that was anything but natural. The truth is that if corn and other crops hadn’t already been genetically modified, our ancestors would have starved to death. This makes it practically difficult to discern what modifications need to be labeled. I don’t understand why the tech community is rallying for labels that will ultimately discourage technology to make food more affordable and drought-resistant. I tend to think it’s because we can afford heirloom tomatoes (which are grotesquely large, compared to the tomato found in the New World five hundred years ago) when most others can’t. Usually people who want to stop tech pick an arbitrary date in the continuum of progress as pure and original; the date is usually around when they were 10 years old.

    • What farmers can do in the field is nothing compared to the radical introduction of genes from other species with absolutely no idea what will happen. The combining of these genes would never happen in nature. A 90 day test on rodents is inadequate to tell me that these foods are safe. Yes on 37

    • SoCalGT says:

      Glenn, I don’t think you understand what genetic engineering is that we are trying to get labeled. It is not selective breeding, cross breeding or even hybridizing. It is removing DNA from one type of organism and replacing it with DNA from a completely different species. This does not occur naturally. It is done in a lab. You cannot tell by looking at the produce that it has been genetically modified. Some of these modifications cause the plant/fruit to produce it’s own pesticides which cannot be washed off. It is inside as well. These are toxins that we would then eat while eating the produce.

      • Glenn Kelman says:

        Many forms of breeding aren’t natural either. What we have created through cow breeding is deeply unnatural. You just find some techniques offensive and others less so, but neither is natural.

    • Jason says:

      Nice try, corporate representative. We all know that scientist have only been able to genetically modify our food for about a decade and the results are secret. Nobody have ever selectively bred corn and fish.

      • I think you are absolutely correct Jason! Glenn is not actually as stupid as he sounds. He must work for a biotech company and is just trying to confuse people who don’t really understand the science very well. When you re read his comment with that in mind, it fits perfectly.

        • Glenn Kelman says:

          I don’t work for a biotech company, and don’t know anyone who does. I work in software. My comment came as an eater and as someone concerned about affordable, accessible food for others.

        • Jason says:

          Glenn isn’t stupid, nor does he particularly appear to be a representative of a biotech company. Selective breeding has been happening for thousands of years, just as he said, and produces breeds that would never have come about naturally. The genetic modification that we do now speeds that process up by several magnitudes, but modifying our food to produce bigger/better/faster growing breeds has been happening for a LONG time.

        • Michael Arrington says:

          yeah Glenn runs Redfin. As far as I know he isn’t moonlighting as a genetic engineer or consulting for big bio.

      • joannecharbonneau says:

        I think you are absolutely right Jason. When you re read Glenn’s comment after realizing he works for some biotech company, it fits perfectly. He isn’t really as stupid as he makes out to be…he is just trying to confuse people who don’t understand the science very well.

    • Matthew Jones says:

      In general, libertarians such as myself recognize that there is a role for government in the free-market to ensure the consumer has access to critical information that they would otherwise not have. But, we still have to be careful to not over-extend such policy into every part of life.

      The problem with labels for genetically modified food is that those words have a terribly negative connotation. It’s not information that the label is providing – it’s trying to scare consumers away. Among more reasonable advocates, this might not be their goal, but it’s still the result. Heck, even though I have no problems with eating genetically modified food, if I were to see such a label, I’d think twice.

      What I think is more insidious is that often those who campaign against genetically modified foods are often the same people who decry world hunger. Genetically modified food allows us to grow food in dryer climates or to a larger size. The result brings down the cost of food for those of us in the US (the poorer and middle classes benefitting the most) and can substantially help others across the world. The problem is if these labels suddenly distort the market to the point that genetically modified foods cannot be sustained and, as a result, research comes to a grinding halt. Those who get punished are the poor in the US who spend a large percentage of their income on food and the malnourished people across the globe.

      Now, if there are legitimate risks associated with these genetically modified foods, such labels become important. But, it’s not so clear-cut as it would seem. To those interested, I highly recommend the excellent Penn & Teller’s BS episode on this subject.

      • Ali Partovi says:

        @Matthew Jones: As a libertarian, stop worrying about trying to predict or regulate distortions. A transparent, free market is best. Today we don’t have a transparent, free market in either food or drugs. With drugs, I’m not allowed to buy experimental, untested drugs — even though I might desperately want to. With food, I buy “all natural” food, only to learn that it actually contains experimental, untested new organisms. That’s deceptive. A transparent, free market would be better.

        You asked about health risks. They’ve never done any long-term health studies, except for the one that found cancer and death in rats. Is that conclusive? No. But are they safe? Who knows. With technology as poorly understood as genetic engineering, and unpredictable side effects from transgenic expression, all bets are off. What should the government decide — safe or unsafe?

        Neither! I don’t want the government to decide. Let the market decide.

        Just let me know which foods come natural organisms, and which are genetically-engineered: that’s transparent. If a producer of invented, untested organisms is worried that people won’t want to eat his inventions, he can always submit for health tests and a “certified safe” label from a trusted 3rd party. Don’t game the system by deceiving consumers into thinking the product is natural.

        Your bit about declaring which foods should be grown to solve hunger… sounds more like Chairman Mao to me than a libertarian. (Ok, sorry — I couldn’t resist!) But seriously. It’s not the libertarian’s place to attack or defending a technology. The free market knows best. A transparent, free market will serve the poor better. Today, GMO food is passed off as “natural”: that means the poor are paying a premium for a perceived benefit that’s not really there. Labeling it properly may reduce its price, if it causes some affluent people to switch to organic.

        Oh, and do a search for “GMO corn yields”… the evidence so far is that GMO hasn’t improved yields yet, not in the US at least. But if it does, that still doesn’t merit calling it “natural” and charging a premium for it. Let the market know the truth, and let the market decide how much it wants to pay for it.

        • Matthew Jones says:

          I suggest you read: http://reason.org/news/show/ca-voters-guide-2012-prop-37

          I have nothing against transparency – that was not the argument I was making. But passing regulations that truthfully serve to distort the market under the pretense of transparency is not the same as transparency.

          If you really want the market to decide, not the government, then the FDA shouldn’t be involved at all. If you believe the FDA has a role in regulating the free market, then you have to be certain and clear in the types of regulations it implements. Do not conflate labels for GMO as the same things as transparency or the free market.

          And your comment about Chairman Mao clearly means you completely missed my point about world hunger. I was simply highlighting the hypocrisy of bleeding hearts who think GMO are the re-incarnation of evil on one hand and then decry world hunger on the other hand. They care so passionately about world hunger that they want to destroy an industry that might be able to solve it. My comment was purely about the hypocrisy not about any government solution.

      • Libertarian EV Driver says:

        Libertarians still argue that government should prosecute theft and fraud. Like Ali says, for a free market to work, transparency is key. Consumers need to know what they’re buying, otherwise that could be considered fraud if consumers are misled.

    • peter says:

      DNA tampering isn’t the same thing when it involves other species.

    • Debby says:

      Do we really need to be eating “ROUND UP” ready corn? Putting more pestecides into our food isn’t the way to good health. Its a death sentence!

    • John Evans says:

      Selective breeding for desired traits has been going on for thousands of years, the concern surrounds actual gene modification by physical (chemical) means. This is difference between tech genetically modified foods, and more or less natural selection, depending on the breadth of one’s definition of natural. You appear to be mixing, or blending, the two separate and distinct methods for trait selection. There is a profound difference between the two. One is known and proven but slower, the other is not, but much faster.

    • John Green says:

      Genetic engineering is not the same thing as selective breeding. You are never going to put a peanut protein into a tomato through selective breeding, and you are never going to make corn glow in the dark with a jellyfish gene through selective breeding. Transgenics should never be confused with selective breeding. They are not the same thing.

    • Sandra Burke says:

      Genetically modified yes corn to corn, not corn to roundup ready bacterially engineered. Very different. Didn’t cause tumors in rats either.

    • Ohheh says:

      If two good looking people have better looking kids, good for them. If they hybridize their fetus dna with an elephant to give it super strength, that’s less cool. Breeding and GMO are nowhere close to the same thing and have totally different impacts; technically, environmentally, and socially.

    • Nell says:

      Glenn, aggressive, selective breeding is NOT genetically modified – what you’re talking about is hybridization, which NOBODY is objecting to. GMO is mostly about taking genes from items that are not able to be mated/pollinized in nature. Examples of that is the bacteria bT, human made chemical glyphosate (Roundup), etc. Think Jurassic Park, not Central Park.

      I don’t want hybridization (or grafting) to stop – large seed and nursery companies such as Burpee, Monrovia, Ball, etc. have all hybridized plants and created Early Girl, Better Boy tomatoes etc. These have NOT been GMO’d (at least not when they first came out). And Glenn, Heirloom tomatoes, by definition, have been reproducing true by seed for at least 50 years, some even hundreds of years before DNA, gene splicing, radiation etc was ever known about. Heirlooms, by definition have to be open pollinated, or else people couldn’t have saved them and kept them true each year. The ancients were hunter gatherers before they were farmers and they didn’t die out because corn or tomatoes were tiny – they ate something else that was ripe at the time. And those plants mutated naturally for hundreds of years before man learned nature’s techniques.

      There is also NO known scientific study that says GMO’d crops are cheaper or drought-resistant. And now they’re finding out that the RoundUp ready corn needs much more RoundUp sprayed on it because the weeds are becoming Superweeds! (which makes it more expensive to plant) The bT they’re putting in corn kills ALL caterpillars and is one of the areas being looked at as to why there are fewer and fewer Monarch butterflies around.

      I strongly suggest reading about the difference between GMO’s and hybridization so next time you leave a comment, no one will question your knowledge. My knowledge comes from being a life time gardener, a Master Gardener and a member of the CA Rare Fruit Growers. I also have a library of over a 100 books and hundreds of magazines all about gardening – organically and conventionally grown. I take my gardening – and my food source seriously. YES on 37!

      • Glenn Kelman says:

        Aggressive breeding and hybridization are very focused techniques for creating new genomes, so yes I think this is an example of engineering and yes it is genetic. I understand the difference between hybridization and other forms of genetic engineering but for me it is a difference in degree, not in kind.

        You are opposed to engineering at such a fast pace, through far more precise methods, because of the unintended consequences sure to ensue. There is ample reason in the history of technology for these concerns. Given the problems with hunger in America and elsewhere, my main concern is with affordability. It’s a difference in values, not a difference in understanding.

        And I thought I was clear that the genes of heirloom tomatoes were engineered by humans in a very deliberate way over 500 years, not 50. People are usually nostalgic for the way things were when they were children but not for the way things were when their great-great grandparents were children. I am probably less nostalgic about food than you are.

        • apartovi says:

          Glenn,
          Thanks for clarifying where you’re coming from. Re higher yields, I’m personally optimistic that GMO technology may improve yields in the future and increase our food supply. To date, it has not (Google for GMO crop yield and see the Scientific American article). Re food affordability, you and I are coming from the same motivation. As I see it, today’s market is deceptive, not transparent. People are paying a premium for “all natural” food that actually isn’t as natural as they’re being led to believe. The inevitable result of transparency and information would be a more efficient market — ie better for all market participants. Maybe some affluent people who really want truly natural food will stop buying GMOs, switching instead to the more expensive Organic alternatives. Even a small shift like that would cause the price of GMO food to drop, making it more affordable for those whose priority is saving money. The poor are not well-served by the status quo where foods containing invented life forms are labeled “natural” and command a premium price. Food producers are profiting from this deception, at the expense of the poor. And this is why those producers are flooding California with $35mm in deceptive ads to oppose Prop 37.

    • Brandy Ek says:

      Glenn, you like most of Americans are being intentionally misinformed by companies that rake in your hard earned money while feeding you poison. Genetic engineering is NOTHING like plant hybridation or selective breeding – they are completely different processes.
      As you said, selective bredding has been going on since the time that man started growing food agriculturally (as opposed to hunter/gatherers). They have bred together two similar plants with desireable traits in hopes of producing offspring that reflect these desireable traits – such as a breeding together two particular corn plants that are larger than the other corn plants of the same varieties, to hopefully produce larger ears of corn. And as you said, they went from corn that was the size of your thumb to the thousands of varieties that have been cultivated in mexico throughout history. This type of breeding is safe and effective.
      Through genetic engineering the seeds are altered at a genetic level using radioactive and virus bio-technologies to insert genes from other species. So they are inserting genes from other plants, bacterias, animals, and even humans to achieve some desired affect (such as insect or herbcide resistance). This is dangerous for alot of reasons – which I’m sure you can easily find research about if you look into it. Genetic Roulette is a new, comprehensive documentary that helps explain the genetic engineering process, and the science that has caused over 50 countries including all of Europe and China to require labeling of or ban GMO foods.
      This is a dirty secret that big business doesn’t want you to know about. I encourage you to spend a couple of hours looking into the dangers of genetically modified foods. Don’t take my word for it, just look at some information that is not provided by the companies making big profits by lying to the public.

    • Nell says:

      The reason dairy products and fresh meats are not included in the bill is because they are NOT genetically modified! My guess is when cattle and dairy cows are themselves a GMO (genetically modified organism) than their product (milk, meat, cheese, etc.) will require labeling.

      The reason restaurant food is not included is because of the way the proposition process works in California. You can only specify one thing at a time and the grandmother who started this process was mostly concerned about products on grocery shelves – guess she doesn’t eat out much!

      Regarding the study – ALL studies have a slant these days – the Stanford study saying that organic produce isn’t any better than conventionally grown produce turned out that they were being sponsored by chemical companies! When the Univ of CA – Davis campus has a hall named Monsanto Hall you have to really start questioning ALL studies done — and yes, you should question the study mentioned also. HOWEVER, if I’m going to be a guinea pig (or a lab rat) I want to be notified and also paid for my services – that’s just wrong!

      There were NO commercial GMO products before 1990’s and we did just fine – the only reason it’s happening now is for Monsanto (the main player) to make scads more money – they’re buying seed companies up left and right; splicing the genes to insert their products (RoundUp mainly) and then making it illegal for farmers to save these seeds, thereby insuring their prosperity for eons to come! Quite the business plan.

      If Monsanto, et al and the FDA hadn’t fast tracked this, I’m sure there wouldn’t be the uproar there is, but just this year, they’re trying to (and will probably succeed) with pushing through 12 more crops (or as they’re now called “commodities”) through the FDA process. Too many red flags to ignore!!

      YES on 37!

  3. zato says:

    Both Romney and Obama eat organic while pushing gmos for others.

    http://healthimpactnews.com/2012/both-romney-and-obama-eat-organic-while-pushing-gmos-for-others/

    Nothing is more important that the food we eat. Our health and happiness depend upon it.
    Human food should be natural and organic. Those who eat industrial food will become sick.

    • Matthew Jones says:

      There are few myths greater than those who tell of the benefits of organic food.

    • Nell says:

      Completely agree with you. A way to think about it is this – pay the extra cost up front and eat organic food/products or pay much more later on in the cost of new health issues and additional health care costs? I’m not 100% organic yet, but that is my aim. I grow more and more produce each year in my garden, replacing trees with fruit trees, shop for certified organic food (there are always sleazy people in every business) and look for organic (or at least locally grown) restaurants. Still have a way to go, but am enjoying the journey, as I know I’m doing less damage each year to mother Earth.

      Thank you for your post – it makes my heart good to see there are people who ‘get it’!

    • Brandy Ek says:

      I’ve also seen many sources that say Monsanto only serves organic, non GMO foods in their employee cafeterias. So they won’t even serve their own employees the food that their company makes it’s money from… probably because they know it’s poison.

  4. I’ve started paid facebook campaigns promoting the celebrity yes on 37 video (https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=297). So far for $167 in spend, my ad has been shown 640k times to 160k people in california, with 1,134 californians clicking to watch the video. Not bad!

    If anyone associated with this video, or someone that might have the funds to better scale this campaign is interested in the details, please let me know.

  5. David Callahan says:

    … this is a little strange, Michael: you are pushing for changes in California laws when you live in Seattle?

    • Michael Arrington says:

      I still pay taxes in California, and this is a national issue. I can have an opinion.

      • David Callahan says:

        … absolutely! We can all have an opinion… in the US [except, maybe the guy who created that anti-Islam video.]
        Two brief questions: 1 – Why would you pay taxes in CA when you don’t live there? and 2 – Why does California “issues” considered “national” ones?
        As to the comments here that genetically modified foods are “poisonous” and “deadly,” Reality check: there is absolutely not credible proof that it is so — These are just opinions from the impressionable, uneducated and uninformed.
        Disclaimer: I have no connections or interests whatsoever related to the companies that are in the GMF fields. Furthermore, in more than twenty years of practicing medicine at top medical centers in the US, I have never seen a single patient with an illness or injury that could be attributed to “genetically modified foods” — neither have I heard of a single case.
        For those expressing fears related to this subject, I would recommend to them to stop watching scary movies… Thanks!
        David Callahan MD PhD

    • joannecharbonneau says:

      I am Canadian and I am strongly urging Californians to vote YES. Hopefully California will pave the way for other states and also Canada. Go California Go.

  6. Sharon Trott says:

    You are one of the many people that have absolutely no real knowledge on this subject. This is not a matter of selective breeding.
    Monsanto and the others are actually injecting a pesticide gene at a molecular level into their seeds. This means in every molecule there is pesticide.
    Please inform yourself on this very important issue before you vote, Glen !

    • Completely incorrect, Sharon. “RoundUp ready” GM organisms are modified to be resistent to the pesticide, so that the pesticide does not kill the organisms. BTW, this results in **less** overall pesticide usage, **less** spoilage, and much more affordable food. So basically, if you misquote what’s actually taking place, you’re showing complete hatred of poor people. :-)

      • Sharon Trott says:

        I HAVE NO SUCH HATRED AND STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT AN ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE METHOD CAN FEED THE WORLD. YOU DON’T KNOW ME AND YOU SHOW YOUR IGNORANCE WHEN YOU SAY I HATE POOR PEOPLE. I STRUGGLE AND HAVE TO PRIORITIZE IN ORDER TO FEED MY FAMILY WHOLESOME AND ORGANICALLY GROWN FOOD. I AM POOR BUT WILL NOT COMPROMISE MYSELF, MY FAMILY OR THE WORLD IN ORDER FOR THESE GREEDY EVIL CORPORATIONS TO MAKE BILLIONS.
        I’M NO EXPERT BUT I DO KNOW THAT WE DO NOT NEED TO GROW OUR FOOD IN A WAY THAT WILL EVENTUALLY RUIN OUR EARTH.
        DON’T AGREE WITH ME, I DON’T GIVE A DAMN BUT YOU ARE A DETRIMENT TO OUR SOCIETY.

        • Here’s the paradox… Growing all the food we need with an “ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE METHOD” (whatever that means) will require significantly more acreage devoted to farming. Even your preferred “ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE” methods use up nutrients in the soil and cause significant environmental degradation without even considering pesticides, etc. Have you ever read up on the Dust Bowl?

          You are obviously a well-meaning, concerned individual. But you are naive. Your hatred of corporations and profits is preventing you from evaluating the entirety of the situation. And your way of doing things, taken out of its niche, will make food far more expensive and lead to people starving. Those are clear consequences of what you believe. You could kill more people through starvation than Hitler and Stalin combined killed through war and genocide.

          By all means, have your farmer’s market and wear your Birkenstocks. But leave the rest of us alone.

          • Sharon Trott says:

            Eat up, Brad ! You need your crap food for your flare for dramatics. I’m so happy to leave you and your beloved Monsanto alone but first leave my FOOD alone !
            By the way, how have your GMO crops done in this years drought ? Not too well and who is taking the hit, we are, of course.
            I’m thinking that people like you don’t deserve to be in the same company as the farmers and the people that buy at a farmers market. Stay home with your bowl of corn flakes and beet sugar !
            Regardless, I have a right to know how my food is grown and what it contains. Does that frightens you ? You have more to fear from these corps. than little ol’ me and my stereotypical Birkenstocks.

          • Michael Arrington says:

            Brad, I’m no expert but from what I’ve read I agree, there’s no way to feed the world’s population without fertilizer at least, and GMO promises to increase yields dramatically over time. The world needs this stuff or it needs a steep population decline. Still, I’d like to know exactly what’s in my food, and I don’t see any reason to not label. You’re arguing something different, but I just wanted to comment that I agree with a lot of what you’re saying.

          • apartovi says:

            We can debate for hours which technologies can best “feed the world.” Fossil-fuel intensive chemical fertilizers, or natural fertilizers from composting waste? Chemical pesticides and GMO plants, or biopesticides? Invent new life forms, or shift diets to reduce meat consumption? If I were engaging in that debate, I’d quote that GMO’s haven’t improved the US crop yield in 20 years (see Union of Concerned Scientists report), and that organic farming actually out-yields industrial ag (see IAASTD report by the UN). But why not let the free market decide that?

            This isn’t that debate. Voters aren’t being asked to plan our agrarian future. It’s not a debate about safety either. The debate is about labelling. The government shouldn’t be deciding what we eat without our knowledge. Maybe in China it would be ok for the government to secretly insert new inventions into our food in the name of higher yields. (Although China actually mandates labeling instead). But not in America.

            Even if it was a miracle drug that gave me eternal youth, I don’t want them putting new inventions in my food without telling me. Inventing new life forms is ok by me. If they increase crop yields or livestock weight gain, let the free market reward that. But putting the newly invented life forms into my food without a label, and calling it “Natural,” that’s not American. It is deceptive marketing. It hurts the poor above all, because they care what they feed their kids too, and they’re being over-charged today for “all natural” food that would probably be cheaper if it weren’t marketed deceptively.

          • Michael Arrington says:

            Ali – “shift diets to reduce meat consumption” – Sorry, that’s where we part ways. I’ll give up steak and hamburgers when I’m dead, not before :-)

          • Michael, How about a prop bet on effects of labeling required by Prop 37? See my comment at the very bottom. I’m actually all for transparency, and not totally knee-jerk hostile to regulatory efforts at such. The problem with Prop 37 that supporters of labeling and transparency really ought to consider is that, like Prop 65, it basically makes it much more costly to claim your GM-free than to just say f— it and slap the label on. Very quickly, most people won’t care, because they’ll realize that basically everything has GM components. Soy, for example, 95% GM and not terribly traceable.

  7. Scott Simons says:

    I’d like to point out that the study had some fairly major flaws in it: http://news.discovery.com/earth/gm-corn-tumor-study-120920.html. I’d also like to point out that GMO food is credited with saving billions of lives thanks to modifications extending the growing season and making crops more drought resistant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug.

    It sure seems like Monsanto is a pretty dick company but GMO foods are improperly getting the blame here.

    • joannecharbonneau says:

      Oh, so you must work for one of Monsanto’s competitors??? You don’t REALLY believe that garbage do you? GMO corn is actually LESS drought resistant. Billions of people?? Pls show me a citation for your facts. Almost laughable….if the topic weren’t so serious.

    • Sharon Trott says:

      I can’t help but wonder why they have banned GMOs in Europe, China and a moratorium in India ? What do they know that you don’t ? It’s just a label but people will be totally amazed when they see how prolific it is in our food supply.
      I have avoided them for years and yet I still discover them lurking in places I would never have thought of. These folks would put it in water if they could !
      Don’t most people want their food pure and the way it grows naturally. You could stay away from them by educating yourself but don’t these companies bare any responsibility to inform their consumers.
      Who asked for them grow food in this way ? Why are they fighting so hard to hide them if this is so good for us and the world ?
      If there were as much effort and research done as Monsanto and Dupont have done than we could feed our planet with what we have been given by nature, I am certain we would be able to ban this insidious way of farming !

  8. Eduard says:

    As a Canadian I really want proposition 37 to go through because I know the rest of North America is bound to follow sooner than later. So kick their mutant asses!

  9. oneadm12 says:

    Wow, for a self described Libertarian, this is awfully big brother of you to support… I think you get confused sometimes, but I won’t hold it against you.

  10. dogctor says:

    @Scott Simons: I’d like to point out that the Seralini study quoted another study, which was conveniently Ignored to avoid all scrutiny and WELL deserved criticism by regulatory agencies (EFSA) and ethical biotechnology experts. The asymmetry of your scientific assessment is astounding as the Monsanto study deserve more criticism and scorn than Serallini for being performed on 400 rats, while designed to have a TINY experimental group ( to avoid finding adverse effects), omitting basic data, listing pertinent data for as few as 7/400 rats (see bilirubin–wonder why?), omitting a bile acid test ( a test of liver function), a urinalysis (a test of kidney function) and providing us with unconvincing conclusions of anonymous pathologists. It doesn’t come close to fulfilling it’s stated objective of assuring us of safety of this crop: http://cera-gmc.org/docs/articles/09-215-016.pdf
    Can you PLEASE CITE a Long- term safety assurance study with ALL data (rather than conclusions) shown of adequate statistical power to convince us illiterates pragmatically (rather than through a well coordinated smear campaign) that there is no increase in mortality and morbidity from ingestion of this crop long term, please?

    • David Callahan says:

      … I would like to propose a new “Prop” — “Prop 37 LR” which would warn all laboratory rats about the dangerous GMFs, which, of course, may affect their delicate and valuable livers…
      By the way, this “Prop” would open the doors for new taxes in CA [you know that those brilliant politicians in Sacramento will welcome this initiative…]

  11. Andrew says:

    You seem to have a list of the companies who are against the proposition, so why not start a boycott campaign of those companies.

    You can start by getting rid of that box of Kellogg’s and buying some Nature’s Path products instead.
    http://www.naturespath.com

    https://twitter.com/NaturesPath

    • Jim says:

      I don’t know if you work for nature’s path or not, but you should know that most (all?) Nature’s path products contain soybean oil.

      Prove that the soyplants this came from were NOT genetically modified. OH WAIT, YOU CAN’T.

      If prop 37 had passed, natures path is one of the many companies that would be labeling ALL of their products as “may contain GM”.

  12. Michael, Maybe you haven’t been in California long enough to remember the last time we did this. Prop 65. Now every building you walk into has a “Prop 65 Warning” on the window. Even if you worry about chemicals and cancer and all that, the law has only been a boon to the people who sell the signs. Anyone who runs an establishment in California puts the sign on the window. Not because they know they have cancer causing stuff in their stores, but because it’s easier to buy the sign and comply than to take the risk of not being in compliance.

    I will bet you anything that within a year of Prop 37 passing (if it does), basically every food product stocked in grocery stores in California will have the GM label. Two reasons. The first is soy, which is something like 95% GM and not terribly traceable now. The second is the Prop 65 precedent. It will be too expensive for food producers to support claims of not having GM components. An interesting side bet might be if more than 5% of people actually care.

    • David Callahan says:

      … ditto.
      This is typical of the leftist-liberal approach to either perceived or created [by them] problems — example: Mayor Bloomberg in NY, who has banned 16 oz soft drinks in NY City “because of rampant obesity” [it is laughable, of course: New Yorkers now buy two 8 oz drinks instead!.]
      Another [tragic] example is that Obama truly believes that Al-Qaeda disappeared with Osama’s death.

  13. Richy says:

    Excellent post. Nationally we should be labelling food as gm / gm free and giving people the choice. Right now there is no clear evidence of a direct risk (I will cover indirect risks in a minute) from consuming gmo produce. There is a hint and a suspicion of a risk.
    The best course is to label food, allowing people to make their own choice until we can do some independant study into the risks. Companies don’t want this because they believe it will tarnish their brand if they are found to have concealed their prior use of gmo in their products. My original career was science (bio), I believe in asking questions and basing actions on answers.
    I am not against gmo because of the genetic manipulation, I believe widespread reliance on it will cause issues based on basic sense and what I see around me day to day. So the indirect risks, a huge issue for me is the pollution caused by the scorched earth approach used in some gm crops. Years spend killing anything in the soil with chemicals that run off and kill our reefs followed by further chemical applications during growth which again runs off into streams and rivers towards the ocean. The declines in our reefs are not down to temperature changes (as this would prompt a change in the type of coral rather than its eradication) but human waste discharge and chemical runoff. I thought these plants were engineered to be more resistant to pests, why all the chemicals.
    Secondly, if we are to adopt widespread gm use we need living seed banks. A diverse network of farmers paid to maintain diversity. Overreliance on a single strain or family of a product is only going to end in tears once pests adapt (well tears from us, glee from the company that will screw once it has us over a barrel). Nature survives through diversity, our ancesters understood and used this, Hawaiian kalo farms had over 120 varieties across the islands, leaving them able to recover quickly from changes in climate or pests. For sure our ancestors selectively bred animals but they also generally ensured bloodlines were kept healthy and diversity was maintained, they didn’t create sterile hybrids that required chemical genocide on ecosystems.

    The very fact the companies resist labelling suggests that perhaps they already have an idea there is a risk.

  14. Justin says:

    Mike, I agree with you 100%, but before I vote yes I’m concerned that this proposition may not be written in the best possible way. I’m specifically concerned about the proposition opening the door for litigious individuals suing companies for not adhering to opaque labeling requirements. I don’t want to create more lawsuit tripwires for businesses. Due to your legal background, I’m interested to hear your opinion. Thanks for bringing attention to this issue.

    • Ali Partovi says:

      There’s nothing about the way Prop 37 is written that would lead to lawsuits or that would make it difficult for businesses to comply. This is a completely inaccurate idea that the deceptive marketing by Monsanto and the other pesticide companies has invented.

      Prop 37 offers no economic incentives for lawyers. Consumers can’t file a class action without first giving notice, and if the defendant fixes the labels, then no class action is permitted. And any penalties from a violation go only to the state, not the plaintiff or lawyer. (see http://www.carighttoknow.org/truthaboutlawsuits for more info, incl protections for retailers)

      Contrary to Monsanto’s deceptive marketing, Prop 37 wasn’t started by lawyers for lawyers. It was started by a California mom and farmer named Pamm Larry. Was the actual legal drafting done by a lawyer? I hope so — what other type of person would you want to write, er, laws?

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