Is the Prop. 37 GMO Labeling Food Fight Over?

Election day is long gone and Proposition 37, a measure that would have required genetically-modified food labeling, has reportedly failed. But some GMO labeling advocates say the outcome could change after all the votes are counted.

It might seem like old news that Proposition 37, the ballot measure calling for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, was defeated Nov. 6, with nearly 53 percent of California voters rejecting it.

But is it over? 

Some groups, including Sustainable Fairfax and Good Earth, say not so fast, posting on Facebook that the outcome of the race could change after all the ballots are counted. 

The proposition has tallied 4.6 million "Yes" votes and 5.2 million "No" votes with 100 percent of the California precincts reporting.

But on Nov. 9, the California Secretary of State reported there were still 3.3 million ballots left to be counted. County officials have until Dec. 4 to finish processing and counting ballots. The California Secretary of State will certify election results on Dec. 14. (The Secretary of State does not annouce the winners of any contest before that date, but media outlets and campaigns usually call an election earlier.) 

Some Marin groups and circulating e-mails are encouraging voters to call the Secretary of State to make sure everything gets counted. But, as provisional and mail-in ballot counting is still happening, calling the state isn’t needed, Secretary of State officials confirmed Tuesday morning.

Secretary of State communications officials told Patch every ballot is always counted, no matter how close or far apart the “Yes” and “No” votes are for an item. 

Many counties, including Marin, have thousands of provisional and mail-in ballots yet to be counted. After Election Day, , which has left some races hanging in balance. The Marin County Registrar of Voters updated results Nov. 9 but still has an estimated 25,000 ballots to count.

Good Earth Marketing Director Sheila McNulty said they were still in the process of discovering exactly how many votes had not been counted yet statewide. “There is concern that there still is the possibility that it could pass – it’s not out the realm of possibility,” she said.

Check out this map showing which counties in California voted in support of Proposition 37. 

She said the local “Yes on 37” group will meet on Thursday to discuss next steps or determine if asking for a recount is needed.

“We’re kind of catching our breath from pre-election efforts and will see if this is something that possibly could change," McNulty added.

The ballot measure was a costly one and a bit of a David vs. Goliath battle. Food giants like Monsanto, DuPoint, PepsiCo, General Mills and Kellogg raised nearly $50 million for No on Prop. 37, while the Yes on 37 campaign raised roughly $7 million. 

Proposition 37 backers including those with Label GMOs, have formally said that even though Proposition 37 didn’t pass, it was far from a failure as it gained national exposure to the anti-GMO food movement.

“Pesticide companies led by Monsanto and DuPont, and processed food corporations led by Pepsi and Kraft spent an unprecedented amount of money to confuse and deceive Californians into voting against their right to know what’s in their food,” said Kristin Lynch, Pacific Region director for Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Food & Water Watch in a release after the election. The group helped create a star-studded “Yes on 37” YouTube video featuring Danny Devito, Bill Maher, Emily Deschanel, Dave Matthews and the cast of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Despite trailing statewide, Prop 37 fared well in Marin, where it has garnered more than 61 percent support.

“While disappointed in the result, we believe that this movement to label GE foods is stronger than ever and we will continue to build a robust national grassroots campaign to push for mandatory labeling across the country,” Lynch said.

Proposition 37 supporters are reportedly gathering signatures to put a similar measure on Washington state’s ballot for 2013. This month Washington voters backed same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana, leaving California – long considered the state for progressive measures – in the dust.

GMO labeling legislation is also in the works in Vermont and Connecticut, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Whole Foods Market took a at the Mill Valley Whole Foods on Miller Avenue.

Fairfax’s Good Earth Natural Foods also showed strong support for Proposition 37.

GMOs are created by gene splicing techniques. Opponents argue it creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes. GMO labeling is mandatory is almost 50 countries in the world.

According to the nonprofit Non GMO Project, “high-risk crops” that are .

Are you, as a consumer, going to do anything now that Proposition 37 has failed? Are you more aware of GMOs? Will it impact your shopping decisions?

Rico November 16, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Yes, I have been aware of Whole Foods Inc. and their non-union- low wage compensation that does not include any medical insurance benefits. How is a clerk at Whole Foods who earns $11.50 per hour with an average take home pay of around $1,000 per month (if they work a full 40 hours per week) supposed to come up with $400 per month to pay the healthcare insurance corporations ? And , yes it is true, I asked a clerk last week at WF about a product that they were giving samples of. I asked if these corn chips were non-GMO (because it did not say so on the label like others do). The clerk told me that WF does not sell any products that contain GMO's. I told him that was a crock of dung ! Basically, I am asking if anybody knows of any turkeys being sold at the retail level that are free range organic and are not fed GMO corn or soy. There is still time before Thanksgiving, so hopefully some wise grocer or butcher shop can locate some good turkeys and probably sell a ton of them if they can guarantee that the birds are not fed GMO corn or soy feed.
Rico November 16, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I called the Good Earth store and spoke with an earthling in the meat dept. They do sell organic turkeys for $3.89 per lb. They are from Heidi-Deistel, the organic brand of Deistel. They are pasture raised and not fed corn or soy, come in 6 to 10 lb. sizes. So, I ordered a 10 pounder. They also sell organic grass fed pork, which I haven't seen yet for sale in southern Marin. I think that the Good Earth is my new place to shop for meat, even though it is a drive up to central Marin (Fairfax), it just might be worth the trek.
Bill McGee November 17, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Ricardo - I am not a fan of Whole Foods nor do I like the politics of their CEO. However I really dislike your practice of using false information to make your case. It is just not difficult Ricardo to search some trustworthy sites to verify your facts before posting. Whole Foods does in fact offer health insurance for their full time employees which includes medical, dental, and vision. The employee contribution for the insurance premium starts at $10 per paycheck and they also get a company funded personal wellness account to help pay for deductibles and other out of pocket medical expenses. I am certain their overall benefits are not as good as those available for union Retail Clerk positions at some other markets. The fact is that Whole Foods HAS to offer competitive benefits in order to compete in the labor marketplace for good employees. The right wing slant to this company is interesting. According to Wikipedia and similar internet sources, C.E.O. John Mackey has spoken about the "global warming hysteria. He believes that climate change will be good for the economy and that efforts to reverse it would be detrimental”. Yikes! It is no wonder he is on the (political) side that refers to the criticism of Genetically Modified Foods as “junk science”.
Rozalina Gutman November 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM
This campaign should be a lesson for strategizing for the next similar action that we the consumers must make and soon, and while the election energy is still there. The organizers should reach out to those, who can bank roll the substantial campagin - what about the celebs who wish to have a reasonable opportunity to know what is in theri food as well?
Bob Hunter November 19, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I may not be the first to comment that smart producers will more strongly emphasize on their labels that their products do NOT contain GMOs, and newly aware consumers will seek them out, again, thanks to the awareness created by the Prop 37 debate.


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