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While many of us are disappointed with the results of the CA proposition 37 ballot initiative, to say the least, the political process is so corrupted with unlimited corporate spending1 that the real surprise for me would have been if it had passed.
Whereas the two-party system enables corporations to equally fatten the campaign larders of both "flavors" of senator, or president – Coke or Pepsi; Democrat or Republican – ensuring that while the public thinks one side is the victor, they get their hooks in no matter who wins, the California ballot initiative was actually a grassroots effort where the only side being funded by the multi-national corporations was the one against the people's right to know what's in their food.
In other words, this was a unique opportunity for an increasingly co-opted and "entertainment value only" American political system to vindicate itself, showing that a legitimate basic human right (informed consent; the right to choose not to consume a potential toxins) could attain legal-regulatory support if enough folks voted for it.
Unfortunately, however, CA voters are highly susceptible to propaganda. The overwhelming majority support for Prop 37 eroded in the last few days before the vote. In essence, $48 million dollars of misleading media, advertising and even criminal misrepresentation of the truth, was enough to scare people into not doing what is so obviously required for there to be a semblance of food and health freedom in this country: the right to know what you are eating, and as a result, being able to choose to not eat something that is potentially toxic.
So, the truth and the people's will can and will continue to be outspent... UNLESS, we decide to heighten our awareness of the issue (which the Yes to 37 campaign undoubtedly did, on an unprecedented, massive scale), and learn to take our daily food purchases as seriously as we do our vote...
Here are a few suggestions
- Do not buy anything that contains corn, soy, beet sugar, canola, cow's dairy, papaya and is not explicitly labeled either "non-GMO" (in the case of milk "rBGH free") or "USDA certified organic."
- Avoid "natural brands" owned by pro-GMO mega-corporations, e.g. Heinz owns Spectrum Organics, M&M owns Seeds of Change, Hershey Foods owns Dagoba, Coca-Cola owns Odwalla. See entire list in the infographic here. Why not support these brands? Because even if you are buying one of their products containing an organic ingredient, the money goes to a corporation whose overall net effect is likely to expand non-organic practices versus organic ones. Or worse, the brands are simply labeled "natural" when they contain no organic ingredients, or even genetically modified ones.
- Avoid restaurant food whose ingredients are not clearly apparent. Have a discussion with the server and manager if necessary in order to express to them your desire to eat non-GMO foods. These efforts can go a long way in making a difference in the way they source and label foods in their menu.
Each and every purchasing decision you make today will have lasting effects tomorrow. Unlike plying massive efforts towards generating a majority vote on a ballot initiative, or getting our president to live up to his now failed GMO labeling campaign promises, the positive effect is immediate and will ripple out in ways that are deeper (even while being harder to directly measure) than simply changing labeling requirements.
So, given that the political process has put a stopper on much of the momentum behind the pro-labeling movement, send a message today by withdrawing your support (with your dollars, your forks, your mouths!) for the companies that do not support your right to know. Their bottom line is the only thing they will listen to.
- 1 DemocracyNow.org, Citizen's United "opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on election campaigns."