Fedco Endorses California Proposition
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At our 2012 Annual Meeting Sept. 9 our work collective
voted to endorse California Proposition 37, a voter initiative that
would have established mandatory labeling of genetically engineered
foods in California. The following month we backed that up with
a donation from our Educational Subsidy Fund, the first time we
have ever expended money on a political issue.
Proposition 37, the most significant attempt yet to
initiate mandatory labeling, targeting the largest market in the
United States, unfortunately failed by a narrow margin of 52.4%-47.6%.
Nevertheless, despite being outspent by a 5-1 margin, proponents
succeeded in racking up more than 5.3 million votes and educating
millions more nationwide about genetic engineering, even though
Monsanto alone, spending more than $8 million on the ‘no’ side,
came very close to outspending the entire ‘yes’ campaign.
The Proposition 37 campaign established a new high
water mark in the long struggle to label genetically engineered
foods. A similar referendum in Oregon a number of years back had
garnered only 30% support. Supporters vow to continue and redouble
the fight, carrying it to Washington and back to Oregon, two states
that permit referenda, and into the legislatures of Vermont and
Connecticut, two states that do not. The close vote in California
is reverberating in other states and has significantly changed the
political landscape on the labeling issue, transporting it out of
the fringes and into center stage.
Only if consumers have a right to know whether their
food is genetically engineered will they be free to make knowledgeable
choices about foods incorporating transgenic technology. Only if
labeling is required will we ever have the needed audit trail to
ascertain whether harmful effects can ever be directly traced to
any genetically engineered foods.