Countering the Big Bucks Campaign to Defeat California’s GMO Labeling Prop 37

22 Aug, 2012

by Marty Kassowitz, Organic Connections online editor

No on 37 fundersAs of August 15, 2012, here’s what the corporate war chest contributions looked like for the opposition to Prop 37, the California GMO Right to Know Act.

A recent campaign release reports:

New campaign finance reports reveal that Monsanto Co. just contributed $4.2 million to defeat Proposition 37, which would require labeling of genetically engineered food. That is the largest contribution in the race. Total contributions to defeat Proposition 37 amount to $25 million, and nearly $23 million during the last week.

Other major new contributions against Proposition 37 were given by E. I. du Pont de Nemours ($1,273,600), Dow AgroSciences
($1,184,800) and PepsiCo ($1,126,079).

“The giant pesticide and food companies are afraid of the mothers and grandmothers who want the right to know what’s in our food,” said Stacy Malkan, media director of California Right to Know. “These companies will try to buy the election, but it won’t work. California moms and dads will prevail over Monsanto and DuPont.”

Thus far, the “Big 6” pesticide companies (Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont) have contributed $13.5 million to defeat Proposition 37.

Of the twenty largest contributors to the No on 37 campaign, only one (Nestlé USA) is from a company based in California. And even Nestlé USA is a subsidiary of the giant Swiss food conglomerate Nestlé S.A.

To date, total contributions against Proposition 37 are approximately $25 million.As supporters of Prop 37, we reasonably expected this sort of financial dog pile from companies who make their living selling highly processed food-like substances or chemicals and pesticides destined for agriculture.

Every single company on this list stands behind their products’ safety. Yet they are willing to pay massive sums of money to keep us in the dark about the presence of GMO ingredients in our foods.

Since over 90 percent of American voters want GMO labeling, it must be that they see the exercise of personal consumer choice as a threat to their bottom lines. The majority want a clear and correct picture of what is in our foods. Nonetheless, the entire industrial food machine, with its roots in earlier times, has been built on obfuscation rather than transparency. We should not shrink in fear of the massive sums being brought to bear to suppress our food choices. The amount of money being thrown against Prop 37 by these companies in itself does not actually endanger passage.

A case in point is PG&E’s failed 2010 ballot initiative in California. The utility spent over $46 million on a campaign to foist off an initiative designed to increase their monopoly hold on power distribution in some areas of California. The opposition to that proposition raised only a little over $100,000 and the measure was roundly, even embarrassingly defeated.

The Yes on 37 campaign has fortunately garnered far more financial support than the opposition to PG&E’s effort was able to muster. In addition, the social media and grassroots support for Prop 37 is large and growing. Passing Prop 37 will be a fight, but keep some basic facts in mind:

  • Over 90 percent of US voters want labeling.
  • Big Food and Big AG actually need consumers more than consumers need them, and it is how consumers vote with their wallets at the supermarket as well as at the ballot box that is their biggest worry.
  • As Stacy Malkan noted, only one major opposition funder is from California. This means this is a national fight. As goes California, so goes the nation is the commonly—and correctly—held belief.
  • Massively funded campaigns can be defeated by true grassroots movements and the use of social media. (The opposition will, and is trying to, use social media as well, but the attempts are pretty obvious.)

We recommend support of Prop 37, no matter where you live! Visit for the latest updates.



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  • Lorayne

    If GMO’s are safe as we are lead to believe why are companies so afraid of labeling? I want to know what is in my food.