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Pesticide Industry Backed Opponents of GMO Labeling Get Criminal in California

Zack Kaldveer

The $36 million No on 37 campaign, bankrolled by $20 million from the world's six largest pesticide companies, has been caught in yet another lie, this time possibly criminal.

These companies and their allies in the junk food industry know that their profit margins may suffer if consumers have a choice whether to purchase genetically engineered foods or not.  And that's why opponents are spending nearly a million dollars per day trying to make Prop 37 complicated. But really it's simple - we have the right to know what's in our food.

To date, the No on 37 campaign has been able to repeat one lie after another with near impunity. But has this pattern of deceit finally caught up to it?

Yesterday, the Yes on 37 campaign sent letters to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting a criminal investigation of the No on 37 campaign for possible fraudulent misuse of the official seal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

The No on 37 campaign affixed the FDA's seal to one of the campaign's mailers. Section 506 of the U.S. Criminal Code states: "Whoever...knowingly uses, affixes, or impresses any such fraudulently made, forged, counterfeited, mutilated, or altered seal or facsimile thereof to or upon any certificate, instrument, commission, document, or paper of any description...shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both."

The letter also provides evidence that the No on 37 campaign falsely attributed a direct quote to the FDA in the campaign mailer. Alongside the FDA seal, the mailer includes this text in quotes. "The US Food and Drug Administration says a labeling policy like Prop 37 would be 'inherently misleading." The quote is entirely fabricated. The FDA did not make this statement and does not take a position on Prop 37.

In addition, the three identified authors of the "Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Proposition 37" include a Dr. Henry I. Miller, who is identified solely as "Founding Director, Office of Biotechnology of the Food & Drug Administration." Dr. Miller in fact, does not currently work for the FDA in any capacity - as millions of California voters have been erroneously led to believe.

This is not the first blatant act of deception that the No on 37 campaign has been caught perpetrating on the citizens of California - particularly relating to their "top scientist" Dr. Henry Miller.

Consider Miller's growing "rap sheet":

• On Oct. 4 the No on 37 campaign was forced to pull its first ad off the air and re-shoot it after they were caught misrepresenting Miller as a doctor at Stanford University  when he is actually a researcher at the Hoover Institute on Stanford's campus, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

• Last week, the campaign was reprimanded by Stanford again for misrepresenting the university in a mailer that went out to millions of voters. And this week, the campaign was caught sending out yet another deceptive mailer involving the University.

In addition to allowing his university affiliation to be repeatedly overblown, Miller has a sordid history of parroting the talking points of some of the world's most notorious corporate bad actors: he's a founding member of a now defunct tobacco front group that tried to discredit the links between cigarettes and cancer, he's repeatedly called for the reintroduction of DDT - known to cause premature birth, fronted for an oil industry funded climate change denial group for Exxon, claimed that people exposed to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster "may have benefited from it", and attacked the US Food and Drug Administration's efforts to ensure proper vetting and testing of new drugs safety while urging it to outsource more of its functions to private industries.

This is the man the No on 37 campaign has portrayed to voters as an arbiter of good science and promoted as an expert worthy of our trust. In reality, Miller is nothing more than a corporate shill that will say whatever his paymasters ask him to, be it Exxon, Phillip Morris, Monsanto, or DuPont.

Does the No on 37 campaign stand behind Miller's fringe views on tobacco, climate change, nuclear radiation and DDT?

But this pattern of deceit doesn't end with Miller:

• On Oct. 5, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the nation's largest professional association for nutritionists and dieticians, accused the No on 37 campaign of misrepresenting its position and misleading voters in the official California Voter's Guide that went to 11 million voters.

• And the anti-Proposition 37 ads that are now blanketing the state have been described as misleading by the San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, and San Francisco Chronicle.

Perhaps these latest revelations will prompt the mainstream press to begin focusing their attention on the No on 37 campaign's pattern of deceptions - including a potentially criminal act - rather than on easily discredited pesticide industry Prop 37 "red herrings" like common sense exemptions, phony lawsuit scares, bogus "big bureaucracy claims", and "cost increase hysteria".

So who should we trust?

Who should we trust when it comes to our right to know what's in the food we eat: Monsanto, DuPont, and Henry Miller or the millions of California consumers and leading consumer, health, women's, faith-based, labor and other groups; 61 countries that already require GMO labeling; and a growing stack of peer-reviewed research linking genetically engineered foods to health and environmental problems?

Who has our best interests at heart, the pesticide and junk food industry, or Prop 37 supporters like Consumers Union, California Nurses Association, California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, United Farm Workers, American Public Health Association, Consumers Union, Sierra Club, Whole Foods Market, California Council of Churches, Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen, and Food Democracy Now!?


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