Election 2012

Proposition 37: Support Declines for GMO Labeling Law

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Fri, Nov 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM
  • MillionsAgainstMonsanto via Flickr

It's been a bad week for the Yes on 37 campaign, the group fighting to pass a ballot measure that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in California.

On Monday, another California political pundit urged voters to be wary of the measure, and on Tuesday, a pair of new polls painted a grim picture: support for the measure has experienced a major decline in recent weeks.

Despite all that, yesterday, Yes on 37 sent out a email blast to supporters with a contrary subject line; "Our opposition is worried," the campaign declared.

"Yesterday, they [No on 37] raised an additional $537,000," Judson Parker writes, explaining the money came from Nestle, Campbell's and Unilever. "They would not raise and spend this money if they thought they had the election in the bag. Their internal polling must be making them worried."

Another conclusion would be that external polling has Yes on 37 worried, and No on 37 thinking they may have a shot a winning for the first time since the ballot measure was introduced in April. The well-funded opposition, bankrolled by Monsanto and other processed food manufacturers, has lagged by a 3 to 1 margin for much of the campaign.

On Tuesday though, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll showed Yes on 37's lead shrinking to 44% in favor of the measure and 42% opposed.

A second poll, from California Business Roundtable and the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, released the same day had even worse news for supporters of Prop 37. It showed opposition to the measure outweighing support for the first time, with 50.5% of likely voters saying they would vote against the ballot measure, and just 39.1% saying they would support it.

Yes on 37 attributes the precipitous decline in the polls to an advertising blitz by the corporations hell-bent on defeating the measure, but newspapers across the state have also expressed concerns that the language of the proposed law could create conditions for a perfect storm of litigation aimed at farmers and retailers.

The latest pundit to express concern about the proposition is Dan Walters, political columnist for the Sacramento Bee, who wrote on Monday that Prop 37 is "one measure that should give voters particular pause."

Per Walters: "The downright weird wording of the measure, with myriad definitions and exemptions, appears to set legal traps, giving lawyers who specialize in class-action lawsuits new territory to explore, much as occurred with Proposition 65, a 1980s-vintage measure requiring signs for products and locales with even the slightest connection to cancer."

Last week, LA Weekly published a piece explaining the ways Prop 37, with its reliance on civilian lawsuits was similar to Proposition 65.

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