With 39 days to go before Election Day, polls indicate that Proposition 37, which would require the labelling of genetically engineered foods (or GMOs) in California, is ahead by a comfortable 2 to 1 margin. Nevertheless, in this post- Citizens United era, no lead in the polls is ever safe. There is still hope for Monsanto, which has now contributed over $7 million dollars in the campaign to defeat Proposition 37, and its allies Dupont and Bayer. In fact, those three companies alone are outspending the largest yes-on-37 proponent, Mercola.com, by 14 to 1.
In steps Alex Bogusky, the adman turned activist. With a check for $100,000, he is now the sixth largest donor to the pro-Prop 37 campaign. Contrast that sum with the sixth largest funder of the anti-37 crowd, PepsiCo, with $1.7 million to date.
According to AdvertisingAge, Bogusky noted his current employer as Fearless Revolution, a consulting firm focused on helping companies transform their brands by becoming more socially and environmentally responsible. Bogusky has used the firm’s blog as a sounding board to protest some of the more dubious business practices multinationals have adopted - he also recently commented on controversial studies focused on GMOs while attacking companies that support Proposition 37. Fearless Revolution’s site also hosts a mini-documentary on the risks of GMOs.
Whether or not you view GMOs as “Frankenfoods” that will hurl us to a frightening future, or as the realistic path to feed a world surging in population, the core issue of Proposition 37 is whether out-of-state entities should have an impact on California’s elections. Furthermore, at question is whether consumers should know if GMOs are in the products they buy and if they have a right to transparent labeling - the standard practice in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the European Union. Companies including Dow, Coca-Cola, Nestle and ConAgra know that if a label is required in America’s most populous state, it may as well be on all of its products sold throughout the U.S., so they are fighting this grassroots initiative tooth and nail.
So while Bogusky’s six-figure check will cheer Proposition 37 supporters, he and the likes of Nature’s Path, Dr. Bronner’s, Amy’s Kitchen and Clif Bar are bringing knives into a gunfight. The true hope that pro-37 forces have going for them is that Californians generally turn their noses at politicians, and officials, that try to buy elections.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and covers sustainable architecture and design for Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.
Image courtesy Fearless Revolution.