NOTE: This is a guest blog post from Stacy Malkan, media director for the Yes on 37 California Right to Know Campaign.
Welcome to election season, when big corporations spare no expense trying to get us to vote against our own self-interest. Here in California, we’re bracing for a bomb of television commercials designed to convince us that labeling food is scary, weird and expensive.
In just the past week, a parade of corporations have donated nearly $25 million — before Labor Day is even upon us — to try to kill Proposition 37, a historic ballot initiative that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
New contributions freshly posted on the Secretary of State website reveal the companies that are forking over huge contributions to, and staking their brand names behind, a front group called “The Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme,” which claims that Proposition 37 would “ban the sale of groceries” — even though it wouldn’t.
Proposition 37 would require companies to add a few words to existing labels to inform consumers if their food has been genetically engineered. Who could be against giving us accurate information about what’s in our food?
The Pesticide Peddlers: Monsanto leads the pack with $4.2 million and a newly posted honor at the bottom of the opposition website that says, “Major funding by Monsanto…”
Joining Monsanto are the rest of the “Big Six” chemical companies — DuPont, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta — who have poured a combined $13.5 million into fighting Proposition 37. Why?
These are the guys who make the pesticides and also sell or push the seeds that are genetically engineered to withstand the pesticides, thereby allowing them to … sell more pesticides. You get the picture.
“Rather than reducing the need for hazardous pesticides, herbicide-resistant seeds have driven a massive increase in herbicide use that has been linked to significant environmental and public health concerns,” explains Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network, in a statement supporting Proposition 37.
“It’s clear that genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant seeds are the growth engines of the pesticide industry’s sales and marketing strategy. These seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to facilitate increased, indiscriminate herbicide use and pump up chemical sales,” Dr. Ishii-Eiteman said.
According to a 2009 report by Chuck Benbrook, PhD, chief scientist at the Organic Center, farmers applied 318 million more pounds of pesticides over the first 13 years of commercial GE crop production (1996-2008), as a direct result of planting genetically engineered seeds. “GE crops are pushing pesticide use upward at a rapidly accelerating pace,” Dr. Benbrook wrote in the report.