by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(please pass along to all fo your California friends)
As Californians gear up to head to the polls on November 6 in support of Proposition 37 and food labeling transparency, the biotechnology industry and its corporate allies are desperately trying, in any way possible, to convince the public with their crafty No on 37 campaign that family farmers, taxpayers, ordinary consumers, and others are against the mandatory labeling of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
But upon further digging, it turns out that the entire No on 37 campaign is nothing but an elaborate front group fraud hatched by Monsanto and other “Frankenfood” giants to appear as though it is some kind of grassroots movement fighting against a “deceptive food labeling scheme.” There are no actual family farmers or regular citizens behind the campaign, in other words, only corporate agriculture interests and powerful industry players are trying to protect their own profits.
Marketing firm that represented Big Tobacco now working for ‘No on 37’
It has recently come to our attention that the forces behind the No on 37 campaign are some of the same ones that at one time worked on behalf of Big Tobacco to fight various policy and legislative initiatives that aimed to establish restrictions on smoking. Recent No on 37 financial filings reveal that the campaign has actually now hired MB Public Affairs, the same firm that in years past represented tobacco giant Philip Morris, to craft No on 37’s game plan for killing the ballot measure.
Like it once did for the tobacco industry, MB Public Affairs is actively working right now behind the scenes to make it appear as though No on 37 is a campaign that was birthed by, and for, the people, even though it is actually a complete fabrication spawned by Big Ag. As Appetite for Profit explains, this whitewashing tactic is commonly known as “Astroturfing,” or creating the illusion that corporate efforts to influence public policy are really grassroots efforts.
Not only this, No on 37’s current treasurer, Tom Hiltachk, used to work for Philip Morris as an outside counsel to the company. Hiltachk was also previously involved with campaign efforts that several years ago orchestrated the recall of former California Governor Gray Davis, who as you will recall was quickly replaced by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Hiltachk’s law firm, Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, also happens to have a reputation for routinely creating front groups that either attack or promote ballot initiatives depending on the agenda of its corporate clients. Because of this, it is very likely that Hiltachk is actually the one running the No on 37 campaign on behalf of the biotechnology industry, which is essentially paying him to lie to the public in an effort to defeat the measure.
“During the 80s and 90s, Hiltachk and his law partners helped the tobacco industry, with funding from Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, coordinate a variety of stealth front groups,” says a 2010 ThinkProgress article about Hiltachk’s shady dealings. “While his law firm received over a million (dollars) from tobacco interests, Hiltachk helped organize ‘Californians for Smokers’ Rights,’ a supposedly ‘grassroots’ group that relied on tobacco industry consumer lists to mobilize opposition to anti-smoking initiatives.”
‘No on 37’ campaign built on lies
It is almost humorous that the No on 37 campaign claims to be fueled by “a broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, business, labor, taxpayers and consumers,” because when you take a look at who the campaign’s actual donors are, you will quickly see that the only entities represented are biotech companies like Monsanto and DuPont, giant food conglomerates like Kellogg’s and Nestle, a number of Big Ag trade groups, and a handful of other supposedly pro-business organizations. (http://www.noprop37.com
Nowhere to be found on the list is the average Joe or the mom and pop farmer, both of which No on 37 claims are on its side. This disparity is further evidenced by the complete lack of Facebook likes and Tweets tabulated on the No on 37 website. You would think that if all these supposed opponents to GMO labeling truly existed, they would at least take the opportunity to voice this opposition via social media in the same way that tens of thousands of Prop. 37 supporters continue to do.
The No on 37 campaign is also trying to use all sorts of phony scare tactics about higher food costs, expanded government bureaucracies, and frivolous lawsuits to trick Californians into thinking that labeling GMOs will be detrimental and “confusing.” The irony in this, of course, is that consumers are already confused about what is in the food they buy, as there is currently no definitive way to identify whether or not American food products contain GMOs unless they are voluntarily labeled as such.
If you live in California, don’t forget to vote Yes on Prop. 37 on November 6
Prop. 37 is not perfect by any means, as both restaurant food and meat and dairy products made from GMO-fed animals are exempt from its labeling requirements. But Prop. 37 is still a critical piece of legislation that, if passed, is sure to set a national precedent for the mandatory labeling of GMOs everywhere. At the very least, millions of Americans who know little or nothing about GMOs will be awakened to their existence, and prompted to begin asking questions.
If Prop. 37 is passed, large food conglomerates like Kraft and ConAgra will also have a tough time just labeling GMOs in California as their distribution chains send the same food all across the country. This means that manufacturers will be forced to either label all their products as containing GMOs, regardless of the state in which they are sold, or completely reformulate their products to avoid the use of GMOs, which in turn will preclude them from having to be labeled in the first place.
Be sure to check out the Yes on Prop 37 — California Right to Know Campaign website to learn more about how mandatory GMO labeling will improve the quality of the food supply, and advance the cause of food freedom and food ingredient transparency: http://www.carighttoknow.org/
And if you or someone you know lives in California, be sure to vote YES on Prop. 37 on November 6!
Sources for this article include: