Prop 37

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Voters Defeat Effort to Require GMO Labels on Foods; Proponents Say They Will Fight On

(ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

(ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

What a difference $46 million in TV ad spending can make.

At least that was the consensus in the wee hours of the morning at the Yes on Proposition 37 party, held at a performance art space in San Francisco’s Mission District, even before the final votes were tallied.

Outspent many times over, “we couldn’t get up on the air,” organizer Stacy Malkan told The Salt when it appeared the measure was going down. “You need a certain saturation to have an impact.”

All eyes in the food world have been on California’s hotly contested genetically modified (GMO) food labeling proposal, which was defeated this morning by a significant margin — 53 percent of the state’s voters opposed and 47 percent in favor.

It would have required that most foods containing genetically modified ingredients carry a “Made with GMO” label on the box. Given the prevalence of genetically engineered corn and soy in processed foods, those labels would have been nearly ubiquitous in the middle aisles of the grocery store. And, given the size of California’s market, and manufacturers’ opposition to distribute two versions of packaging, the California law could have morphed into de facto national policy as well.

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The 4 Propositions You’re Most Interested In…

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lisa Aliferis and Jon Brooks

It’s getting down to the wire — just seven days to make up your mind on a plethora of issues and races … and then ya gotta vote.

Lucky you: We’re here to help.

Our reports about Props. 30 and 38 (education and taxes); the nine-item Prop. 31 (governance) and Prop. 37 (labeling GMO foods) are attracting a lot of attention online. So either we’ve really figured out this SEO thing, or you’re genuinely interested in those initiatives in particular.

Thus, we’re compiling the best-of-the-best of our coverage on these props so that you don’t have to stand in the voting booth pondering whether numerological concerns aren’t going to be the one determining factor after all in how you vote on these things, complex as they are, yet sold, packaged and soundbited by opponents and proponents alike direct to your Id.

So read up!

-Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 both promise to fund schools, but in different ways.

-Proposition 31 will do nine (yes, 9) different things, attempting to overhaul state governance. God knows California governance needs overhaul, but is Prop. 31 the right approach?

-Proposition 37 requires the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in foods.

If you need information on still more props, here’s a bonus:

-Proposition 32 (campaign spending)

 

You can always consult our Proposition Guide for concise information about all 11 props. on the California ballot.

Archive: KQED Public Radio’s ‘Forum’ Examines 10 State Propositions

Michael Krasny in studio

Through the studio glass: Michael Krasny hosts KQED's daily call-in show "Forum."

Here at KQED, we take elections pretty seriously. It’s a time when our mission of educating the public comes to a head — the messages coming from the campaigns are unrelenting and taken as a whole can present a confusing picture. So helping you cast an informed vote is our aim.

That was the philosophy behind our state proposition guide. Some people, however, prefer listening to reading. For those folks we present a complete archive of Forum’s 2012 state proposition shows. Some are an hour long, some are half an hour, but all present views from both sides and include community input we received via calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter. So sit back, turn up your speakers, and take a listen…

 

Prop. 30: Gov. Brown’s Tax Increase for Education, Public Safety

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Did the No-On-37 Campaign Fabricate a Quote From the FDA?

A mailer sent by the No On 37 campaign to millions of California households is the subject of the latest scuffle in an increasingly feisty tit-for-tat over the state proposition that calls for food made with genetically modified components to be labeled.

GMO soybeans. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

At issue are a single quotation mark – either a typo or a fabrication, depending on whom you ask – and the questionable use of a federal logo.

The mailer that No On 37 sent out highlights five anti-Prop 37 quotes, including one each from the California Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Latino Chamber of Commerce. Alongside each quote is the group’s logo.

But one of the quoted organizations, the Food and Drug Administration, cannot, by law, endorse state ballot items. And according to FDA policy, its logo “is for the official use of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not for the use of the private sector on its materials… Misuse of the FDA logo may violate federal law and subject those responsible to criminal penalties.” Continue reading

Analysis: Propositions 32 and 37 Campaign Ads

California is not a battleground state for the presidential election, so that leaves plenty of room on the airwaves for other statewide commercials. Friday on The California Report Magazine, host Scott Shafer does some fact-checking with KXTV political reporter John Myers. They started off with commercials for and against Proposition 37, the measure to require labels on genetically modified foods in California.

Here’s an ad in favor of Prop. 37:

And here’s a commercial from the “No on 37″ campaign: Continue reading

Arguments For, Against Prop 37′s GMO Labeling Requirement

Most of the corn in the U.S. is grown from genetically engineered seeds. (fishhawk: Flickr)

Most of the corn in the U.S. is grown from genetically engineered seeds. (fishhawk: Flickr)

One California proposition that is getting nationwide attention is Proposition 37. It requires labeling on raw or processed food that’s made from certain genetically engineered materials. It also prohibits calling any foods “natural” on the packaging — if those foods are made with genetically modified organisms (GMO). Supporters say consumers have a right to this information. Opponents say the measure is misleading and full of loopholes.

The California Report’s Scott Shafer talked with science reporter Amy Standen on Thursday about Prop. 37. Here’s an edited transcript of their discussion:

SCOTT SHAFER: Let’s begin with a background question. How are genetically modified foods used right now; how prevalent are they?

AMY STANDEN: Very prevalent. In fact, pretty much everything you’ll find in the middle of the supermarket — everything from sodas to crackers to cereals to cookies — almost all of those foods contain genetically modified ingredients. That’s because most of the corn, soy and a lot of the rice grown in the U.S. is grown from genetically modified seeds.

SHAFER: And what does that mean? How are they engineered and why? Continue reading

Transcript: Debate Over Prop. 37′s GMO Labeling

GMO soybeans. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On election day, voters will decide on the so-called “Right to Know” Proposition 37. The measure would require labeling of genetically altered raw or processed foods known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs. Prop. 37 would make California the first state in the country to require labels on a host of food products found in grocery stores.

KQED’S Forum last week hosted a debate about Proposition 37 that has drawn a lot of interest online. So we’ve transcribed the first half of the show, which included a debate between two scientists, one for and one against the measure. Listen to the show here, or read the transcript after the audio player.

Edited transcript:

Host Michael Krasny: Stacy Malkan is a spokesperson for Yes on 37. She is co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.” Greg Palla is the executive vice president and general manager of the San Joaquin Valley Quality Cotton Growers Association. He’s  member of a farming family that’s been in operation now for a century, in business here in California. Generally, we make a practice of beginning with the “pro” side. Why do we need this, Stacy Malkan?

Yes on 37′s Stacy Malkin: What we are seeing here in California is a true people’s movement for our right to know what’s in the food we are eating and feeding our families. We had almost a million people sign petitions in the state to get Proposition 37 on the ballot — thousands of volunteers across the state, many of them moms and grandmothers, people who are not typically out on the streets petitioning for political issues, but saying, “We have a right to know what’s in our food. We are eating this food. We get to decide.” And that’s why we have the largest health, consumer, environmental and labor groups on our side saying, “Yes on 37.” This is truly about the people of California versus the largest pesticide and junk food companies in the world that don’t want us to know about the genetic engineering of our food system. Continue reading

California’s Prop. 37: Are GMO Labels A Scarlet Letter?

By Amy Standen

Genetically-engineered lettuce can sprout in a hot, dry climate.

Genetically-engineered lettuce can sprout in a hot, dry climate.

Proposition 37 could make California the first state in the country to require labels on foods made with genetically-modified ingredients. It’s shaping up to be one of the most contentious — and certainly the most expensive — battles on the state’s November ballot.

On one side are organic food groups that have spent about $3 million in support of the labeling law. On the other are biotech firms like Monsanto and food giants including Pepsi, Sara Lee, and General Mills, which have contributed upwards of $28 million to try and keep GMO labels off food packages.

If Proposition 37 passes, you’ll see a change in nearly every part of the grocery store.

To the “No On 37″ camp, there is nothing benign about a label

Take the cereal aisle, where Stacy Malkan with the “Yes on 37” campaign recently picked up a box of granola and pointed to the ingredients panel.

“Many of these products have corn syrup, cornstarch, sugar beets, and soy products that are genetically engineered,” she said.

In the United States, up to 90 percent of those foods are grown from seeds that have been genetically modified. Scientists made changes in the plants’ DNA to make the crop resist pests or stay fresh longer, to name two examples.

Malkan thinks that’s something consumers should know about. Continue reading