LA City Council Endorses GMO Labeling Initiative As Corporate Giants Spend Millions To Defeat It

This week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously endorsed Propisition 37, a ballot initiative that would require companies to label food made from genetically modified plants or animals and prevent them from advertising that food as “natural,” joining a long list of other supporters of the proposed measure. Council member Paul Koretz, the resolution’s author, called it “a no-brainer” and said the Council was “proud to be a part of this true grassroots campaign in our struggle against the biggest pesticide and junk food companies in the world.”

If voters pass the ballot initiative this November, California will become the first state to require labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The point, which over 90 percent of Americans support, is to simply let consumers know what is in their food. Over 60 countries — including China and the EU — already require this kind of GMO transparency.

However, a handful of powerful multi-national corporations — the leading donors of which are not based in California, or even within the United States — are spending millions of dollars to defeat the GMO labeling initiative. The opposition is bankrolled by corporate giants like Monsanto, Coca Cola, and Nestle and, after spending more than $41 million on advertisements against Prop 37, their negative ads appear to be having an effect. A poll conducted in late September found 76.8 percent of likely voters supported Prop 37, but a Los Angeles Times poll released October 24 showed just 44 percent of voters in support.

When considering the campaign supporting the measure has raised just $6.7 million, the fight over Prop 37 has reached David vs. Goliath proportions. Still, the political director of the Prop 37 campaign told the Examiner that he was “thrilled” with the City Council’s endorsement. “The Council joins millions of moms, dads, family farmers, doctors, scientists, and grocery store owners in saying, very simply, that we have the right to know what’s in our food,” he said.

— Greg Noth