The battle for improved food transparency faced a devastating blow in California as election results early this morning showed the failure to pass the state ballot to label food with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. With 53 percent voting against the hotly debated Proposition 37, and with 47 percent in favor, the initiative to make California the first state to have such labeling lost by a substantial margin.
The final vote is a big difference from polls reported back in September showing Prop 37 to be overwhelmingly popular, with 65 percent in favor. The drastic shift may have something to do with the millions of anti-Prop 37 advertising dollars spent on the “No on Prop. 37” campaign, with agribusiness giant (and top GE crop producer) Monsanto leading the way. Monsanto alone contributed over $8 million to stop the proposition. Joined by other entities (including Pepsico, Kraft Foods, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, etc.) whose products would require labeling as a result of the law, the industry spent nearly $46 million to defeat the measure. Meanwhile, the "Yes on Prop. 37" campaign spent $8.9 million to support the pro-labeling initiative.