Voting Yes on 37, Despite Its Many Flaws

Image courtesy CA Right to KnowProp 37 is one of the more contentious items on tomorrow's ballot, which is no surprise. After all, everyone eats. And issues dealing with domestic life and health choices are often seen as value judgments, making Prop 37 very personal for a lot of voters.

But putting aside anything to do with food, Prop 37 is about choice and informed consent. I'm voting yes on 37 because I can't get behind corporations telling consumers not to worry their pretty little heads about what they're buying. And as it happens, lot of "no on 37" arguments have to do with the perceived danger, or lack thereof, of GMO foods.

Fine, so you don't think GMOs are bad for your health. You're still not telling me why food shouldn't be accurately labeled.

The chef/manager of the Hollywood Farmer's Kitchen, which is the restaurant affiliated with seven farmers' markets around L.A., actually is, within measures, pro-GMO. He has to make all kinds of "the opinions expressed are strictly my own" disclaimers when he says that because it is, in his world, an EXTREMELY radical stance. But he's been stumping for Yes on 37 too, because he believes in choice. (This is, as I'm sure you've picked up, a Feminist Issue, should anyone want to go that route.)

The No on 37 campaign isn't offering any real reasons to vote their way. Instead, they're focusing on the weaknesses of the opposition. And it's true, Prop 37 is poorly written and sometimes arbitrary. Their campaign is getting more absurd every day, too: as Susie Cagle at Grist points out, California Right to Know's "Is it ham ... or human?" Facebook post is insulting and disingenuous. (P.S. It's ham.)

Yes on 37 has also been accused of the same tactics their opponents are absolutely guilty of. No on 37 identified their main talking head, Henry Miller, as a Stanford University professor. He is not, and never has been, but he has been paid to disavow the link between cigarettes and cancer before. (And you know that when a campaign is lying about their talking heads' credentials, they don't even believe their own rhetoric.)

Unfortunately, Yes on 37 has been manipulating science findings, according to Alan McHughen, an author of the US National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine paper often quoted by the campaign.

"I am deeply troubled by what appears to be intentional selective misquoting from the report to lead people to believe the US National Academies and Institute have not evaluated the safety of genetically engineered foods, or, worse, to suggest that the Academies and Institute did investigate GE foods and found them less safe than conventional foods," McHughen wrote in an email to California Right to Know.

But, again, No on 37 can't offer any reason not to vote for the proposition, other than "it's not well-written." In fact, when my office asked their spokesperson if they'd back a better-written pro-label proposition, she responded along the lines that it's not the issue at hand, so they won't discuss it.

The argument that food prices will rise is too ridiculous to be believed. We're meant to infer that our grocery bills will increase because farms will switch from GMO products to non-GMO. That won't happen, for reasons ranging from soil health to cost to Monsanto contracts. Really the only increase in price would be the result of food companies having to create new labels. Which would be a small, one-time cost, right? Well, no, say some food companies, because they'd have one label for California and one for the rest of the country. Why?

Because they don't want people to know it's GMO.

Yes on 37!

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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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