Prop. 37 aftermath: Sour organic grapes

Anti-GMO activists in California and elsewhere are wringing their hands after the defeat of their pet ballot initiative requiring labeling of GMO foods. The result as I write this is 53.1%-46.9%.

How are supporters taking this defeat? If internet comment boards are any indication, not too well.  The anti-GMO crowd is sounding like the Republicans after Obama’s win, blaming everyone but themselves. Without boring you with the gory details, many commenters are saying that people are stupid and idiots because they didn’t approve the measure. They are easily swayed by slick campaigns.  I guess they hadn’t noticed that Obama won in California. So did the anti-human trafficking measure.

Oh, and there are also some that are claiming vote fraud. Again, sound republican to anyone?

Michelle Simon over on HuffPost has her reasons, among them are:

Deploying unfounded scare tactics: This is rich.  Almost everything in that law was either a lie or a misreprsentation. As I wrote earlier, right out of the box they lied. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process.

Lying in the California voter guide: Yes. They did. But again, see above. She also notes that they said, “biotech foods are safe.” A fact is not a lie because you don’t believe it. Climate change deniers anyone?

The opposition played dirty. Yes, they did, but so did the pro-campaign. Supporters claim they knew the anti-side would play dirty. If so, why didn’t they have a plan in place to counter it?

Supporters need to sit back and think what they did wrong. Many opposing the measure pointed out that it was a badly written law.  Supporters claimed it was a classic case of big money influencing an election. But was it?

There is not doubt the corporations threw wheelbarrows full of cash at the initiative. That is going to have an effect. But is that the main reason? For the past year and a half or so, supporters had free rein to get their message out. There was little or no opposition.  Then, one month ago, the big guns started spending their war chest. In that month support for the bill plummeted from about a 3-1 margin in favor to neck and neck around election time.

Now think about that. It only took one month to lose a 3-1 lead. You just can’t chalk that up to money alone. It was the first time people got to hear from the opposition, and hear from them they did. Ads blanketed the airwaves. Still, the bottom line was that it only took one month to undo a year and half’s worth of campaigning.  That should give any supporter pause.  In Connecticut, Republican Senate candidate, Linda McMahon spent millions more than her opponent and still lost, so throwing tons of money into an election isn’t a guarantee  you will win.

Given the conflicting information thrown at voters from both sides. my own theory is that voters, not really knowing about GMOs, simply opted not to take the chance their food bills would rise.  I also think voters, despite hearing the advocate side, haven’t seen the hazardous health effects supporters kept crowing about.

Supporters need to realize the initiative was badly flawed and created by an industry that wanted to gain market share. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Union and one of the biggest supporters of the law admitted as much as I wrote back in August,  “The burning question for us all then becomes how – and how quickly – can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming? The first step is to change our labeling laws.”

As much as Monsanto and others had a financial take in this law, the creators of the law had a financial stake as well, but they hid it inside a “right-to-know”  theme. Now, the anti-GMO circus is going to take their show on the road. Good luck with that.

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