Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

36 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Opponents of genetically modified food will continue to fight despite defeat in California (Photo by asianfarmers via flickr)

Big Agriculture Bankrolls Defeat of California's Proposition 37

Proponents remain positive about the future fight against GMOs

Common Dreams staff

California's landmark Proposition 37 was soundly and sadly defeated on Tuesday by corporate interests and big money politics. As of Wednesday morning, with more than 94 percent of the precincts reporting, news outlets reported that the measure has been rejected.

Opposition of Proposition 37 was spearheaded by large agribusiness and chemical companies—such as Monsanto and Dow—and big food manufacturers—including PepsiCo, Nestle, and Conagra—who dumped more than $45 million into the fight. Monsanto, a leading maker of genetically engineered seeds, contributed $8.1 million alone against the measure which would have required labeling on genetically modified food.

As of early October, a USC/ Los Angeles Times poll announced that the measure was leading by a large margin, "with 59 percent of voters in favor versus 28 percent who are opposed."

However, nearly $27 million was spent by the "highly organized" No campaign on radio, television and Internet advertising to spread myths about increased bureaucracy and higher food costs.

In contrast, the yes campaign raised $9.2 million, relying primarily on social media and grass-roots initiatives. Supporters include the organic industry, consumer groups, and alternative medicine organizations. Proposition advocates believe that consumers have the right to know whether food has been genetically altered, particularly because long-term affects are yet unknown. Consumer groups estimate that about 70 to 80 percent of processed foods currently sold in the US are made with GM ingredients such as corn, soybeans, sugar beets and cottonseed oil.

Despite the loss, proponents of this first-of-its-kind initiative remain optimistic that the conversation about the dangers genetically modified foods will continue.

"Whatever happens tonight, this is a win," Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms and co-chair of Yes on 37, said Tuesday while waiting for polls to close. "Never before have millions of Californians come together to support giving consumers a choice about genetically engineered foods."

A statement by Food & Water watch declared

One bought election does not change the fact that more than 90 percent of Americans want to join the more than 60 other countries around the world in knowing whether or not their food has been genetically engineered with a simple label.

"Thanks to all who have supported us," wrote the Yes on 37 campaign in a concilliatory tweet shortly before 1 a.m. "This is the first round of many!"

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just ONE DAY left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

NARAL Pro-Choice Endorses Fetterman—Who Vows to End Senate Filibuster to Protect Abortion Rights

"We know we can count on him to boldly fight for abortion rights and access," said the head of one of the nation's largest reproductive rights advocacy groups.

Jon Queally ·

'We Will Fight! We Will Win!': Nearly 200 Abortion Rights Defenders Arrested in DC

"If people don't see the rage," said one woman at the protest, "nothing changes."

Jon Queally ·

Federal Abortion Ban Desired by GOP Would Increase Maternal Deaths by 24%: Study

"Pregnancy shouldn't kill people—in fact, in other rich countries it very rarely does," said the lead author of the new analysis.

Jake Johnson ·

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo