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Fedco Endorses California Proposition 37

(For more information go to The Cornucopia Institute.)

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.