by Marion Nestle
Oct 15 2012

Pro-Proposition 37 forces are getting busy

Michael Pollan has a terrific piece in this Sunday’s Times Magazine on why the food movement needs to get behind California’s Proposition 37, flaws and all.

California’s Proposition 37, which would require that genetically modified (G.M.) foods carry a label, has the potential to do just that — to change the politics of food not just in California but nationally too.

…sooner or later, the food movement will have to engage in the hard politics of Washington — of voting with votes, not just forks.

…Obama’s attitude toward the food movement has always been: What movement? I don’t see it. Show me. On Nov. 6, the voters of California will have the opportunity to do just that.

Helping this along are two videos from Food and Water Watch, both really well done.

And then there’s this one, from a creative pro-Prop 37 individual (was he suggesting that it’s OK to give Pepsi to that baby?  Not at all—see comment below from Ali Partavi).

Enjoy!  Whatever you think of GMOs, people want and have a right to know the source of their food.

  • Hi Marion,

    I made the video “Unsuspecting Baby” with the Pepsi can and Kellogg’s box… It’s not a “group,” just me producing at home with my iPhone + Mac (and a lot of advice from people who saved me from screwing it up).

    My intention was definitely *not* to suggest that a baby should drink Pepsi, with or without GMOs 🙂 If you want to break it down, I felt using a baby in the video would be a device to represent every-person. I.e. I can talk to the baby and the audience at the same time. Also, a baby represents a person who is helpless, vulnerable, and blindly eats the food he/she is fed — symbolizing the position that many consumers are in w.r.t. GMOs. To make a video only 1:35 long, you need to convey a lot with imagery and hope the audience follows 😉

    (Not to mention, a baby helps get some cheap laughs, and improved chances of going viral, since a lot of people on Youtube are searching for “cute baby.”)

    For the record, that is my friend’s baby. He was too young to eat even Corn Flakes. He was actually munching on some delicious homemade baby food. The cereal flakes were strategically spread around out of his reach, and the Pepsi can was empty.

    Thank you for all that you do, Marion!

    Ali Partovi

  • Anthro

    While I wholeheartedly respect and promote anyone’s “right to know”, I find that the vast majority of people who want GM food labeled, are under the impression that GM food is dangerous, unnatural, part of a conspiracy theory to make us all Monsanto slaves, confuse gmo technology with the rightly questioned business practices of Monsanto, et al, and equate other unscientifically supported ideas with the general idea that GMO technology and plants grown with it are B.A.D.

    I will read and watch everything you have posted in my ongoing effort to form a rational opinion of GMO and its ramifications, but so far I have found little but unsupported fear of something new that is poorly understood by the general public–a state of affairs that has been aggravated by the University of Google and lack of basic science skills.

    I realize I will immediately be referred to a host of “articles” and “studies” that condemn GMO food, but I am still waiting for bona fide scientific evidence of their harm or a reasonable science-based reason to suspect future harm.

    I grow most of my own food because I don’t like produce that is bred to have shelf life promoted over taste, by whatever farming method, and I keep three hens because I am concerned for the welfare of animals, so I am not unconcerned about food or food politics–just rational.

  • Emily Kennedy, MS, RD


    It is my understanding that because these GMO seeds are patented, any research done on them is controlled by the owners of the patent (e.g. Monsanto). So while that is the case, we as consumers are unlikely to see any research, particularly any condemning research, on GMOs.

  • Anthro, I also wanted to state, like Dr. Kennedy, that the research you are seeing from Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, etc. is not independently funded nor peer reviewed. Without controls and elimination of the ‘conflict of interest’ that taints a significant amount of published research it is unlikely you’ll see evidence to the contrary regarding GM foods. For instance, Monsanto recently purchased a company that was doing research into honeybees that found as association between Monsanto’s pesticide and ‘hive death’. Another study that Monsanto is trying to discredit involves rats with tumors. Having reviewed the protocols for this study versus some of Monsanto’s own research, the controls put in place were far more rigid and rigorous than what Monsanto presents as ‘research and evidence’. In addition, all Monsanto research requires the signing of non disclosures prior to permission to study various GM crops, allegedly to protect their patent positions. This is fact so it’s important to not rationalize PROP 37 supporters as ‘anti-science’ since the science presented by the ‘no’ campaign isn’t real.
    One study touted by the ‘no’ campaign has never been published except on the ‘no’ campaigns website. They even allude that UC Davis is involved in the research when, in fact, it’s two UC Davis professors who receive funding for their department from Monsanto and other biotech companies.
    Prop 37 isn’t perfect but it is from the People and by the People, for the People and we support it, and in the interest of full disclosure we are a food company that will be affected by this measure. Doing what is right is right. If you are a California voter, please VOTE YES on 37 this November

  • Margeretrc

    Don’t worry, @Greg Koenig, I’ll be voting yes on prop 37–not because I believe GM is inherently bad. I know there are good reasons sometimes and not everything that has been genetically modified is bad or bad for you. But I believe in labeling so that we have freedom of choice to choose or not to choose GM foods. And if it hurts Monsanto in the pocketbooks, so much the better. I believe some of their practices are truly evil. Patenting seeds and suing farmers because their crops were accidentally infiltrated by patented seeds–wrong on so many levels. Developing and patenting seeds that will produce plants that will not themselves produce viable seeds, so that farmers have to keep shelling out money for seeds every year to Monsanto–evil. So I will vote for anything that is against Monsanto’s interests on general principals. And judging by how hard they are fighting against prop 37, I’d say it is against their interest.

  • SBM

    I think basic labeling is okay…such as “this product uses genteically modified ingredients” but the question is, where do we draw the line. Technicially food has been genetically modified for 1000’s of years! For some reason, cross breeding plants is thought to be ‘safer’ then the newest technologies. Would the labels have to reflect the cross breeding of ingredients…because they should if there is fear in changing the DNA in plants. In fact, studies have shown that cross breeding plants increase variability in the DNA more then using the newest technologies. Also, cross breeding plants do not need to under go the same intense studying as the GM foods using the newest technology. For a GM food to be approved, it has to go at least 10 years of rigourous studies by the FDA. Many preliminary studies are done at Universities, but they can not afford the intense studies required by the FDA. To help save consumer cost of changing labeling standards, an easier way to avoid the newest GM technology is to buy certified organic. This will still contain cross breeding of plants, but people can be assured the DNA has not been isolated and deliberately changed.

  • Richard Frank

    Marion…yet another well done article. I for one disagree with Prop 37; for personal, not professional reasons. Yes, our clients don’t like Prop 37, but my concerns are more academic at the moment.
    You end your piece by stating “…people want and have the right to know the source of their food” Where does the oft cited “right to know” end? Can/should Arizona be able to require “state of origin” labeling for produce from any state other than Arizona? Can/should Vermont be able to require growers of produce in non-organic fertilizer to label their product “grown with non-organic fertilizer”Fda has properly concluded that GMO crops do NOT require special. If you disagree, petition FDA.

  • Marion, I am curious about your opinion on the recent “Organic Spies” videos. I hear conflicting viewpoints from “Whole Foods never claimed to be GMO-free” to “Whole Foods are sellouts and engage in deceptive advertising”. Also, do you feel that YouTube was right for removing the original Organic Spies video?