Join Us on the Right Side of History
By Stacy Malkan
This November, Californians will vote on a question that affects all of us – do we have the right to know what’s in our food? A huge majority of people across the political spectrum are saying yes, we do; and they want to know specifically if their food has been genetically engineered in a lab.
“In a country seemingly dominated by partisan polarization on everything from the cause of hurricanes to the state of the economy, it’s hard to find issues, outside of motherhood and apple pie, that can muster over 90 percent support,” respected national pollster Mark Mellman wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill.
In a recent survey, he found one. “Voters express almost unanimous support for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods,” Mellman wrote.
Several other polls have shown similar results: 89-93% support for labeling genetically engineered foods – a type of labeling that is standard procedure in 49 other countries, including all of Europe, Australia, Japan, China and Russia.
But will the high support translate to votes this fall for Proposition 37?
Voters show high support for labeling genetically engineered foods but will this translate into votes in November?
The race is sure to be heated. “Proposition 37 promises to set up a big-money battle pitting natural food businesses and activists against multinational companies including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Kellogg,” wrote Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times.
“Backers and opponents have already raised nearly $4 million combined for campaigns to sway voters, an amount that's likely to swell into the tens of millions of dollars as the November election approaches.”
While it’s a safe bet that proponents will be outspent in the ad war, the Yes on 37 Right to Know campaign has a war chest of different kind: people.
A statewide network of thousands of volunteers helped the measure easily qualify for the November ballot. The initiative, which calls for simple labels on foods that have been genetically engineered, collected almost a million signatures in just 10 weeks, nearly twice the amount needed to get on the ballot.
This massive mobilization followed on the heels of a nationwide effort to win labeling of genetically engineered foods that generated over one million comments on a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than any petition in FDA history.
Now, all eyes are on California, as the New York Times reported in a recent front page story.
Building on all this momentum and attention, the Yes on 37 Campaign today announced an ambitious new goal of organizing One Million More Californians for the Right to Know What’s in Our Food.
The One Million More drive will organize thousands of volunteers going door to door and reaching out at grocery stores and farmers markets around the state. The campaign is also launching an online organizing offensive, with voters showing their support at www.CARightToKnow.org and in social networks and online communities.
More than 300 bloggers have signed on to promote Yes on 37 and more than 1000 organizations have endorsed the campaign, including farm, business, consumer and environmental groups, public health advocates, and labor unions.
The Yes on 37 Right to Know campaign plans to make history by organizing a million more supporters in the coming months, and we are already making history by standing up to some of America’s most powerful corporations who want to keep us in the dark about what’s in our food.
Which side of history will you be on?
Please sign up today to join One Million More who agree that we have the right to know what we eat and feed our families.
Stacy Malkan is media director for the Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign and a longtime advocate for environmental health. Stacy co-founded the national Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and authored the award winning book, “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.” She is a former journalist and newspaper publisher.