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Election aftermath: Proposition 37 and the food movement

November 07, 2012|By Betty Hallock
  • A protester in Sacramento speaks out against genetically modified corn.
A protester in Sacramento speaks out against genetically modified corn. (Robert Durell / For The Times )

Marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage and tax measures won big in some state votes last night, but California's Proposition 37 was among the losers.

Voters rejected the ballot initiative, which called for labeling some foods made with genetically modified ingredients, 54% to 46%. The proposition had been trailing in polls for weeks amid a campaign battle that saw a big-money push for "No on 37."  

Some supporters built up passage of Proposition 37 as "a shot heard 'round the world" to bring about wider food-system reform. Many proponents of the measure saw it as an opportunity to spark a national referendum as well as challenge what some call "Franken-food" and the use of only a few seed types owned by a small number of giant companies, said Tom Philpott in Mother Jones

"Make no mistake, Prop. 37 was the food-system equivalent to a lunge at the king. No fewer than two massive sectors of the established food economy saw it as a threat: the GMO seed/agrichemical industry, led by giant companies Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, and Bayer; and the food-processing/junk-food industries who transform GMO crops into profitable products, led by Kraft, Nestle, Coca-Cola, and their ilk. Collectively, these companies represent billions in annual profits; and they perceived a material threat to their bottom lines in the labeling requirement, as evidenced by the gusher of cash they poured into defeating it."

But Philpott pointed to thousands of projects that carry on "completely independent of and unimpeded by the machinations of Monsanto and its ilk." The food movement marches forward.

And there's always the option of moving to Colorado or Washington.

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