Straus Family Creamery of Petaluma last week released new pro-Proposition 37 packaging on its yogurt and milk containers. The northern California dairy products company estimates that as many as 500,000 people will see the new logos and artwork with just three weeks to go before the election. Calling out the proposition’s opponents, who are quick to claim that new GMO labeling requirements are too expensive, the company’s president Albert Straus insists that changing labels costs a fraction of a cent.
For Proposition 37 supporters, however, Straus’s change in packaging and the trickle of money coming in to support the measure may not be enough to reverse the initiative’s reversal of fortune. Once public support for the measure was ahead by a 2-to-1 margin in the polls; but a recent Pepperdine University-California Business Roundtable poll shows that the barrage of anti-Prop 37 advertising and slew of newspaper editorials stating their opposition to the measure has narrowed the margin, with 48.3 percent saying yes and 40.2 percent in opposition.
Straus, one of the pioneers of the organic and local food movement in California, has been a vocal supporter of Proposition 37. Creamery founder Albert Straus sent a check to pro-Prop 37 efforts and the company has led an aggressive outreach campaign to educate consumers on what it believes are the benefits of foods made without GMOs. To Straus’s credit, the company has focused more on the need for transparency, consumer’s rights to know exactly what they are exactly and ethical food sourcing–and less on the “Frankenfood” hysteria that often muddles anti-GMO advocates’ arguments.
For such companies as Straus Family Creamery and their allies, however, their advocacy add up to drops in a bucket compared to the tidal wave of money flowing from outside of California to fight Proposition 37’s passage. Companies bankrolling anti-37 efforts have outspent the measure’s supporters by almost nine to one; Monsanto alone has contributed one-fifth of the $34.1 million Proposition 37 opponents have donated to fight the measure’s passage. While companies that would benefit from Proposition 37’s passage, such has Whole Foods, have announced support, but have held back from funding the Yes-on-37 campaign.
Typical of many initiatives and legislative bills, Proposition 37 has some arguable flaws. But in this post-Citizens United era, those shortcomings are easy to manipulate and amplify on the airwaves, and with 22 days to go, an eight-point lead in the polls can easily evaporate.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter.