Bursting the GMO Foods Bubble
17 Oct, 2012
by Marty Kassowitz, Organic Connections online editor
The California Proposition 37 battle is heating up. The opposition—Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer CropScience, BASF, Syngenta, and a host of giant food companies such as Kellogg’s, General Mills, Coca-Cola and Pepsi—has heaped millions of dollars into massive ad campaigns to defeat it. The opposition to Prop 37 has adopted a spend anything, say anything, no-holds-barred stance.
All of this activity is designed to create an illusion: that these forces are too big to defeat, and that they are everywhere. The latter is at least partially true—none of the opposition companies are based in California. But what really is the intent of this illusion? PR attack campaigns composed of lies actually don’t work in the long run. There are too many bloggers, too many social media accounts, too many people who will immediately recognize the lies and say something.
No, this opposition campaign’s real target is the Yes on 37 campaigners themselves. It is designed to generate a feeling of defeatism stemming from seemingly unlimited funds in the hands of the opposition.
In truth, a campaign is all about numbers. The No on 37 campaign hopes we’ll mistake one type of number for another—misinterpreting money numbers for people numbers. The Yes on 37 campaign has a great many real, breathing people. The opposition doesn’t and is substituting money for people.
Dollars don’t vote. People do. The true smoke-and-mirrors aspect of the opposition campaign is that it is trying to make it look like there is a real opposition movement. There isn’t. What is there in fact is a bunch of paid PR operators pushing out press releases, putting up bad videos with easily disbelieved talking heads, buying newspaper endorsements, and the like. An interesting exercise in fact checking is to look at the video stats on YouTube. Opposition videos are there but with very few views. The recent Danny DeVito and company video has gotten over 100,000 views in just a few days.
Since the Yes on 37 campaign began with a LOT of people—a million signatures on the petition to launch the initiative—and has grown since then, there exist an enormous number of voices that should be able to easily drown out the paid lies of the few in the opposition.
Part of accomplishing this is understanding the mentality of the opposition. That mentality can be summed up in two words: abject fear. The folks at Monsanto and their biotech brethren are a lot of things, but they are not stupid. The fabric of lies that forms the foundation of their GMO market is coming undone. And this undoing is at the hands of the very nature they tried to arrogantly master.
The bugs and weeds their products are designed to combat are becoming immune and in spectacular ways. Glyphosate-resistant pigweed is reportedly growing in fields at a rate of three inches per day, damaging and destroying farm equipment. The promise that GMOs would reduce pesticide use has now come undone, requiring more and more applications of poisons.
The biotech industry’s basic interest in GMOs is not rooted in growing food and feeding the world. It has everything to do with patents. Patents open the door to exclusivity of product and even monopoly. The average prices of Monsanto’s seeds have increased 135 percent since 2001, according to the New York Times. And since Monsanto’s contracts forbid farmers from saving seeds, new batches must be purchased for every planting.
This use of lies and captive markets can only go so far before it collapses like the toxic bubble that it is.
And California’s GMO Labeling Proposition 37 is the needle poised over this bubble. We as the proponents of this bill need to understand this and not flinch in the face of apparent opposition. Once labeling is accomplished in California, the rest of the US will tend to follow. Washington State already has a similar initiative process running. Then the market dynamic of GMOs will begin to shift as we, the consumers—the real market force—flex our collective muscle.
How do we make this happen in the short term? We communicate—not just with each other but with the undecided and uninformed. Increase the use of social media and the web. It costs but a little of our time. Support the campaign with dollars as well. This way we can get more of our messages into mass media too. It never hurts to push out more true messages.
One thing I find effective is simply asking people I know how they will vote on Prop 37. People either say, “I’m voting yes,” or “What’s GMO?” And that’s an easy question to answer, which leads to another commitment to vote yes.
Click here to visit the campaign site. And if you’re in California, vote early and help turn the opposition’s fear into their own case of apathy.
This article was not paid for by the Yes on Proposition 37 Campaign.