Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Did the Anti-GMO Movement Really Lose in Washington?

Did the Anti-GMO Movement Really Lose in Washington?:

Twelve months after narrowly (51-49 percent) defeating our organic and natural health movement in an expensive ($55 million) and bitterly fought California ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) are publicly bragging that they’ve beaten us again, 52-48 percent, in a similar ballot initiative—I-522—in Washington State. 

But at what cost? Thanks to increased consumer awareness and resistance against GMOs (genetically modified organisms), the biotech and junk food lobbies were forced to spend twice as much money per capita in Washington State as they spent in California. 

They stooped to laundering $12 million in funds from Big Food companies to hide their identities in the hope of avoiding another round of bad publicity. They had to launch the same scurrilous barrage of TV, radio and direct mail ads, falsely claiming that GMO food labels as prescribed by I-522 were “confusing” and “limited,” would significantly increase food costs, hurt family farmers, and benefit special interest groups. 

Yes, at the end of the day, Monsanto and Big Food confused enough Washington voters to scrape out a narrow victory in a low-turnout, off-year election.

But just as in California, Big Food and Big Biotech privately acknowledged that I-522 was a hollow victory, another expensive, brand-damaging battle in a fruitless war against consumer choice, a war they will inevitably lose. 

After spending $70 million in California and Washington, reaping tons of bad publicity in the process, large food corporations and biotech companies understand the enormous risk of fighting high-visibility battles defending a technology, genetically engineered food, that 40 percent of the population believes is unsafe, with another 40 percent remains unsure. 

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