by Marion Nestle
Aug 29 2012

California’s Prop. 37: OMG GMOs!

California’s ballot initiative to label GMO’s has caused quite a stir.

Food biotechnology companies are spending millions to defeat the initiative.

The Yes on 37 California Right to Know people don’t have nearly as much money, but they are doing what they can.  They have a new video ad, well worth a look: “Agent Orange is harmless.”

And another: “Vote Yes for Labeling GMOs.”

But the “don’t miss” has to be this fast-paced rap taking a broad look at the issues: “OMG GMOs!” 

The polls say voters approve GMO labeling by a very wide margin: 65% to 24%.

Will they vote this way in November?  Or will outspending by opponents prevail?

Stay tuned. 

  • Fred- “GMO maker” is hardly a fair description of my career or employment. I work as a software engineer which is noted on the right column of every page on my blog. I’ve never worked in biotech or even agriculture (unless you count a home garden). It is willfully lying to call me a “GMO maker”. It is wrong of you to do so. Why not just admit it and move on? Your argument can stand on its own without everyone you disagree with having to work in the industry you oppose.

  • Quick note to James: Corporate = bad when consumers’ clear preference get disregarded and disrespected.

    To all: consumers are all aware of the use of pesticides and artificial ingredients in food. No labeling is necessary since it is a KNOWN fact that most apples (for example) have pesticides on them. These are implicitly identified, if one doesn’t want such item, there is always a pesticide-free produce clearly identified with the right labeling next door.

    Right now, consumers KNOW that most produce have pesticides on them and which don’t (see pesticide-free or organic labels). But consumers DON”T KNOW which products are GE or not and this is the very issue here: the right to identify GE foods.

  • Mike


    Track down the methodology for determining that 90% of the population (or whatever the supposed consensus stat is) wants GE labeling. Such an absurdly high percentage all but admits to deplorable research practices.


    Interviewer:”Nobody knows the long term effect of these things and [in the bygone pre EPA era] the companies who make them made a couple things we now know are dangerous [and now off the market thanks to research and regulation that protects our food supply], and people might be allergic, and farmers are just helplessly complicit. Again, no one knows if these things are 100.000% safe. Want them labeled so you can keep your family safe?”

    I could probably similarly manipulative rhetoric to make someone skeptical of Organic produce if I cared to.

    Stop thinking about agriculture for a minute and think about marketing and PR– people employed as articulate tools to push any agenda, regardless of morality or scientific validity.

    And where is this magical agro-utopia where pesticides are unnecessary for producing salable fruits and vegetables on a commercial scale? Bueller? Research the chemicals approved by USDA and OMRI.

  • James

    Fred, corporations exist to make money. If they disregard all consumers’ preferences, I don’t see how they will accomplish their purpose. You probably hate corporations like Monsanto, who helps farmers produce food using minimum amounts of inputs, helping them get the most from their land. If we get less from the land, guess what? People start cutting into wild areas to make more land for agriculture. As long as we agree on the goals- in this case, quality food produced using a minimum of inputs- efficiency seems good to me, not bad. Am I missing something?

  • Mike, James, thanks for keeping up the convo. One report to read about “Organic trumping conventional farming in Rodale Institute’s 30-year study”

    Pesticides and organics have their detractors. Unsurprisingly, there is no such lobbying against these practices because we have some clue about them. We do not have the same level of knowledge about GMO, simply because research on it is till -relatively- young. Remember that DDT was deemed safe for years until it was removed from the market following a streak of deaths.

    GMOs have genes from bacteria they found in a toxic sludge puddle spliced into them. They are genetically engineered to produce toxins to kill bugs. In tests those genes have been shown to mutate the stomach bacteria so your own stomach is producing toxins inside you. It is not even remotely like natural evolution or even hybrids.

  • Mike
  • Mike

    Google USDA NASS and show me how organic is trumping conventional. As of 2007, ~0.1% of NYS farmland was used for cultivating organic fruits and vegetables. National Organic Act was passed in 1991…

  • Fred-

    Your last paragraph claims the claim that our stomach bacteria (I assume you mean intestinal) have adopted genes from transgenic crops and are producing those toxins inside us. I’d love to see a citation for that.

  • R Andrew Ohge

    When you “popped up” on my suggested friends list, I read your first article here, which prompted me to move on> It seems, like me, you see food safety as a broad issue with many facets and no simple solutions. Sadly, some of the entities that SHOULD be “watch-dogging” ALL things related, including the GMO’s have been co-opted by the Corporations.

    Recently Monsanto acquired/bought/invested into an alliance with Alnylam Technologies, ( with the sole purpose of refocusing their attentions on RNA disruption as a new Bio-based Pesticide, Herbicide and obviously, a new resistance trait. I had to dig, but they’re looking to deploy this by 2014. As RNA is the “executable” side of Transgenic Programming, my impression tells me this could produce much larger issues than Glyphosate or 2,4-D ever has being “spliced” into the DNA side of the equation. What is your take?

  • Mike, Rachael,
    Check this study. The results are in from the first-ever peer-reviewed long-term health study of genetically engineered food. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology.