Is the Prop. 37 GMO Labeling Food Fight Over?

Election day is long gone and Proposition 37, a measure that would have required genetically-modified food labeling, has reportedly failed. But some GMO labeling advocates say the outcome could change after all the votes are counted.

It might seem like old news that Proposition 37, the ballot measure calling for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, was defeated Nov. 6, with nearly 53 percent of California voters rejecting it.

But is it over? 

Some groups, including Sustainable Fairfax and Good Earth, say not so fast, posting on Facebook that the outcome of the race could change after all the ballots are counted. 

The proposition has tallied 4.6 million "Yes" votes and 5.2 million "No" votes with 100 percent of the California precincts reporting.

But on Nov. 9, the California Secretary of State reported there were still 3.3 million ballots left to be counted. County officials have until Dec. 4 to finish processing and counting ballots. The California Secretary of State will certify election results on Dec. 14. (The Secretary of State does not annouce the winners of any contest before that date, but media outlets and campaigns usually call an election earlier.) 

Some Marin groups and circulating e-mails are encouraging voters to call the Secretary of State to make sure everything gets counted. But, as provisional and mail-in ballot counting is still happening, calling the state isn’t needed, Secretary of State officials confirmed Tuesday morning.

Secretary of State communications officials told Patch every ballot is always counted, no matter how close or far apart the “Yes” and “No” votes are for an item. 

Many counties, including Marin, have thousands of provisional and mail-in ballots yet to be counted. After Election Day, , which has left some races hanging in balance. The Marin County Registrar of Voters updated results Nov. 9 but still has an estimated 25,000 ballots to count.

Good Earth Marketing Director Sheila McNulty said they were still in the process of discovering exactly how many votes had not been counted yet statewide. “There is concern that there still is the possibility that it could pass – it’s not out the realm of possibility,” she said.

Check out this map showing which counties in California voted in support of Proposition 37. 

She said the local “Yes on 37” group will meet on Thursday to discuss next steps or determine if asking for a recount is needed.

“We’re kind of catching our breath from pre-election efforts and will see if this is something that possibly could change," McNulty added.

The ballot measure was a costly one and a bit of a David vs. Goliath battle. Food giants like Monsanto, DuPoint, PepsiCo, General Mills and Kellogg raised nearly $50 million for No on Prop. 37, while the Yes on 37 campaign raised roughly $7 million. 

Proposition 37 backers including those with Label GMOs, have formally said that even though Proposition 37 didn’t pass, it was far from a failure as it gained national exposure to the anti-GMO food movement.

“Pesticide companies led by Monsanto and DuPont, and processed food corporations led by Pepsi and Kraft spent an unprecedented amount of money to confuse and deceive Californians into voting against their right to know what’s in their food,” said Kristin Lynch, Pacific Region director for Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Food & Water Watch in a release after the election. The group helped create a star-studded “Yes on 37” YouTube video featuring Danny Devito, Bill Maher, Emily Deschanel, Dave Matthews and the cast of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Despite trailing statewide, Prop 37 fared well in Marin, where it has garnered more than 61 percent support.

“While disappointed in the result, we believe that this movement to label GE foods is stronger than ever and we will continue to build a robust national grassroots campaign to push for mandatory labeling across the country,” Lynch said.

Proposition 37 supporters are reportedly gathering signatures to put a similar measure on Washington state’s ballot for 2013. This month Washington voters backed same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana, leaving California – long considered the state for progressive measures – in the dust.

GMO labeling legislation is also in the works in Vermont and Connecticut, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Whole Foods Market took a at the Mill Valley Whole Foods on Miller Avenue.

Fairfax’s Good Earth Natural Foods also showed strong support for Proposition 37.

GMOs are created by gene splicing techniques. Opponents argue it creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes. GMO labeling is mandatory is almost 50 countries in the world.

According to the nonprofit Non GMO Project, “high-risk crops” that are .

Are you, as a consumer, going to do anything now that Proposition 37 has failed? Are you more aware of GMOs? Will it impact your shopping decisions?

Jack November 13, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Nope. Not over. The conversation's just getting started.
Stacy November 13, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Great article, thank you!
Jessica Mullins (Editor) November 13, 2012 at 04:50 PM
This article was updated at 8:40 a.m. with more information from the Secretary of State, including the date the state will certify the election results (Dec. 14). I also added some information to ensure no one gets confused by information circulating elsewhere: 1. You don't need to call the Secretary of State to ask that all votes get counted. They are already counting them all. 2. The Secretary of State doesn't call any elections before Dec. 14, but news outlets and campaigns do.
Kathryn November 13, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Thank you for this information. My daughter and I both voted Yes but had not been counted at the time it was reported a defeat. Glad to know our votes will count. We had mail in ballots dropped off the day of election.
Dale November 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Per Genetic Roulette filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith, there was a successful grassroots effort in the US regarding GMOs in San Juan County, Washington, which passed its GMO-Free County initiative on Election Day. Under this local initiative, growing GMOs on the San Juan Islands will soon be illegal. This initiative passed with support from 60% of the voters. Note that before Monsanto & Co. barraged California's airwaves with their ads, the Yes on Prop 37 campaign was polling similar numbers.
Rico November 13, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Dale, Marin and Mendecino counties here in CA already outlawed GMO crops a few years ago. I sure wish that the media and campaign managers would wait until the Secretary of State counts all the votes makes the vote counts official before pre-calling an election. The facts that Monsanto , DuPont (better living through chemistry), Kraft and PepsiCo spent $50 million for the no on 37 campaign speaks volumes. All their advertising dollars were not completely wasted, it actually helped expose the public to how bad GMOs really are, and how much money is made by these corporations involved. Now, there are millions more against Monsanto ! Armed with this new awareness, the people have the power to boycott all foods and other products that contain GMOs, toxic chemicals and other adulterants like artificial flavors, colorants, preservatives and sweeteners. Even if only half the people of California boycotted these poison foods, it would really hurt Monsanto's and other corporations bottom line, and if other states follow suit, maybe put Monsanto out of the food business. It is the consumers who have the final say, we vote with our purchasing dollars, and it doesn't matter how much Monsanto and the gang spend on false and misleading advertising, including paying the media to call election results early. We have the power now, let's use it. You know Monsanto must be quaking in their boots now, but wait until California is done with them.
Craig Slater November 13, 2012 at 07:24 PM
just beginning! awareness raising will continue. Corporations fooled Californians on Prop 37, but people will demand labeling because truth and public awareness will prevail. 47% for labeling is very respectable considering all the lies that corporate money can buy on TV! Toxic chemical corporations Monsanto, Dupont and Dow and the mainstream "food" system used the CA Chamber of Commerce to force the LA Times, SF Chron and other cash-strapped media outlets to oppose 37. Lots of people were fooled by genetically engineered lies, drinking genetically engineered koolaid made by these toxic corporations who make fake food.
Craig Slater November 13, 2012 at 07:46 PM
3.3 million ballots uncounted as of friday 6pm, and author Jessica Mullins tells us not to call our representatives? Secretary of State's office says tally will be updated today. Regardless of the outcome of Prop 37 vote count, MORE EDUCATION & ACCURATE INFORMATION is needed. Note to the editor and to Jessica Mullins: Thanks for this article, but certainly NOT for the article released November 5, "Survey: Biologists Say 'No' to Prop. 37's GMO Labels" by Dan Abendschein, Patch San Anselmo-Fairfax. Readers' comments on that article should clearly indicate that was exceedingly poor "journalism" at a time when your community needed real journalism. So, I am helping to form a group of citizens and educators who would like to talk with You about how the Patch can better serve its readers, particularly on these issues. There are many well informed people in your own community that you need to speak with on these issues of great importance. Education and information is needed. Knowledge was the purpose of Prop 37. Please feel free to email or call me directly 721-7241.
Jessica Mullins (Editor) November 13, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Hi Craig, There is no need to call the Secretary of State to ensure the ballots get counted because the process is already under way. Each county is responsible for doing the tallying and then they report results to the Secretary of State. The counties update the Secretary of State with information, including the number of ballots left to be counted, on a voluntary basis between Election Day and Dec. 4. As I added to the above article, Secretary of State officials told me today that election officials always count all the ballots for every race. They will certify the results on Dec. 14, as the article above says. I appreciate you reacting to an article you didn't like on Patch by facilitating civil dialogue. I'm, always, happy to meet with community members and to learn more about what Patch readers would like this site to focus on. This is, after all, a site for our readers and community. Feel free to e-mail me at jessica.mullins@patch.com to try to set up a time to meet or to start a discussion about important issues to San Anselmo and Fairfax.
tony masi November 13, 2012 at 11:30 PM
What's great about Patch is that if you write a blog on just about anything, they'll print it, (unless it's about costumed road-kill, but that's another story). Even if the blogs are limited to the Patch site they're posted on, it's still a great resource. I think Jessica has done a great job in providing local interest news. I am slightly curious about her process for publishing other contributing articles. The biologists' Prop 37 survey pressed my emotional buttons, too, and I kind of lost my tolerance on that thread. Reaction leading to interaction is, I guess, good in a way.
tony masi November 13, 2012 at 11:34 PM
So Jessica, if you don't mind, give us a little insight into your world. Do you exercise complete autonomous editorial control over this little section of Patch? Or are you ever fed any articles suggested for use by Patch executives higher-up in the chain of command? If it's not crossing any boundaries and you're comfortable with sharing this information, I'd love to know how this works.
Marcia Hagen November 14, 2012 at 12:53 AM
For those who wonder why it takes so long to count ballots received on election day, both Vote by Mail and provisional, it is because signatures must be matched to those on the registration card, and for provisional, checking that the person is registered and hasn't voted twice, among other possibilities. I am a member of the Marin Registrar of Voters Advisory Committee, and I encourage anyone interested to watch the process at the Elections Office on the first floor of the Administration Building at the Civic Center.
Sheila McNulty November 14, 2012 at 01:12 AM
UPDATE - Good Earth Natural Foods has received information from the California Right to Know Yes on 37's lawyer clarifying that the final count will not change the results, stating that the race is not close enough for a recount or contest. Those of us in the food movement are very disappointed that we lost. Going forward, Good Earth will continue to strongly advocate for the labeling of GMOs. We support the Non-GMO Project, and encourage all of our suppliers to seek Non-GMO Project Verification. The food movement against GMOs is strong and undeniable, and Good Earth will persevere for the most important food causes of our lives. 
Bill McGee November 14, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I am appreciating the fact that many supporters of 37 seem like they are new to voting and the process. This is great and a good thing that this issue brought out new voters. I am sorry that there are a few conspiracy theorists who are spreading some false information and false hope about the counting process. I am proud of CA voters for making this a relatively close vote, but in the big scheme of things it was not that close. Those experienced with evaluating results could see where the uncounted ballots exist and easily predict the finish. It would have been a disservice to keep people hanging and to have NOT called it. As noted above, every ballot is counted before elections are certified and the counting and process is transparent. If by some miracle the remaining votes happen to be overwelmingly (over 60%) YES, then it will still pass.
SoCalMel November 14, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Let's cross our fingers. If it doesn't pass this time, it will next time. We have to keep pushing it.
SoCalMeli November 14, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Let's cross our fingers. If it doesn't pass this time, it will next time. We have to keep pushing it.
MaxR November 14, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Indeed. Someone needs to get working on a new measure as soon as possible, while people are still furious. Hopefully the 2014 ballot will have a revised version of the measure, but one that does not give our opponents too much ammunition. Yes, they'll say it's expensive. But we also need to make sure there aren't so many exemptions, and that the stores themselves aren't subject to frivolous lawsuits by individuals who do not even have to prove that the *store* did anything wrong. The burden needs to be on the manufacturers, and there need to be requirements that state that GMOs must be labeled individually according to a searchable database (GMO Corn #7) instead of leaving open the possibility for every single product having a label that simply says "May contain GMOs." If this happens, I think it will prevail the next time around, despite the millions that corporate villains will throw against it.
Jack November 14, 2012 at 06:01 AM
A bunch of double-talk. They announced a winner without counting ALL the votes. That has nothing to do with a democracy no matter how you try to smooth it over. People don't vote to NOT be counted...give your head a shake and stop speaking with a forked tongue.
Brian November 14, 2012 at 06:04 AM
What is very strange and incongruent to the predominant liberal California voter-trend is the fact that the death penalty was PRESERVED. This measure, had it won, would have SAVED the California legislature 10's of MILLIONS of dollars per year. Instead, we are told that that Prop 30 passed legitimately, while at the same time, the GMO labeling effort failed and the death penalty preserved. THIS MAKES NO SENSE for liberal / progressive CA. Similarly in Michigan, voters retained their Republican majorities in the State legislature while at the same time, Romney lost HIS HOME STATE of Michigan. This math does not add up. It is now time to ELIMINATE ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES - no exceptions, and return to serilaized PAPER BALLOTS counted by hand. Also ELIMINATE the local sheriff's handling of these ballots and turn that responsibility over to a body of citizens to whom it rightfully belongs. Things have gotten OVERTLY corrupt in the US - particularly with voting / elections and how 'close' all of these elections tally. When we were kids (before computers) never were elections so close!! YouTube: "Clint Curtis Software Programmer."
MaxR November 14, 2012 at 11:31 AM
What you say about California's confusion is true. However, I feel I should correct you on a few things. Romney's home state is not Michigan. We don't use many electronic voting machines, at least in CA. It's almost entirely paper. And there's no way they could be counted by hand, unless you mean hand-feeding the ballots into scanning machines, which is what they currently do. The sheriff has nothing to do with it, either; the Registrar of Voters office handles all of that. But then, I agree with you on the general point of how corrupt things have gotten. :)
valeri hood November 14, 2012 at 08:31 PM
That is not what Pamm communicated- the lawyer said that it is not likely- but he does not have a crystal ball- let's get the votes counted so that we have an accurate read before we make proclamations. Silly talk about conspiracy- it was a conspiracy right out in the open to disenfranchise the voters and dissuade them from voting in their own interests- amazing how many votes $40 million can take away. All this was about was labeling GMO's-- 61 countries do it- including China-- where are most gmo's eaten - the US! At some point, people must realize that Monsanto and the rest of the evil empire of pharmaceuticals and poison perveyors were behind the "NO" campaign- too bad they didn't see through the lies during the election.
Jessica Mullins (Editor) November 14, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Tony Masi, Thanks for the kind words. As editor of the San Anselmo - Fairfax Patch, i'm responsible for creating the bulk of the site's hyper-local content (or finding content that's relevant to the community). I wouldn't call my position entirely autonomous when it comes to picking content that appears on the site, but I have a good amount of freedom and am, at the very least, usually involved in making decisions about content that appears on the site. I want to ensure the comments on this article stay on topic, but I'm happy to meet with you or to discuss this more in an e-mail if you have other questions.
Rico November 16, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I was looking at turkeys for sale at Trader Joe's yesterday. They had turkeys that were vegetarian fed-corn and soy. I would like to know if there are any good turkeys available that are free range and not fed GMO corn and soy. Good Earth Natural Foods, do you know of any such turkeys available commercially to the public ? I do know that Bill Niman has started an organic turkey farm in Bolinas after selling his Niman Ranch business for reasons that he did not agree with the method that the new company was using. So far, I have never seen any of Bill's turkeys available in retail stores, I read that he does sell to restaurants. I am very serious about boycotting any meat, dairy, produce or poultry that might be fed GMO crops. I will talk to Whole Foods and see what they have to say about their turkeys and what feed the ranchers use. If WF was smart, they would have certified organic GMO free turkeys for sale. I would gladly pay more for a Thanksgiving turkey that was not fed corn or soy. I do know that federal law forbids injecting poultry with hormones, but I want GMO free poultry, including the feed. Does anyone have an answer ?
Bill McGee November 16, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Ricardo - I would be careful about trusting Whole Foods. They came on board very late with the 37 campaign and reluctantly at that. Once they got on board, their ads promoting Prop 37 seemed rather self-serving. Just a few weeks before the election, WF had not given any money to the yes on 37 side and they resisted public invitations to join in the campaign. They were embarassed into joining the campaign after a hidden camera type home video circulated on YouTube where employees were caught lying about GMO's. Whole Foods has always carried foods containing GMO's without disclosing same. Whole Foods is big business. Current CEO and co-founder John Mackey is a Texas ultra conservative Libertarian type buy.
Craig Slater November 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM
Yes, Whole Foods was horrible on Prop 37- they remained silent and unsupportive of Prop 37, kowtowing to GMO corporations. WF supported Prop 37 only after the big GMO corporations' lies had done the damage to public awareness. Only then did WF respond, only after they got criticized, when it was too late. WF played the corporate game, and sold out. WF could have easily helped Prop 37 to win by donating money and support much earlier, when money was needed. WF has tens of millions at hand. But they withheld support, they did not help Prop 37 until it was too late. sold out to the more powerful transnational corps, while trying to look friendly to their shoppers.. Playing both sides of the fence, and thus failed their shoppers miserably.
Rico November 16, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Yes, I have been aware of Whole Foods Inc. and their non-union- low wage compensation that does not include any medical insurance benefits. How is a clerk at Whole Foods who earns $11.50 per hour with an average take home pay of around $1,000 per month (if they work a full 40 hours per week) supposed to come up with $400 per month to pay the healthcare insurance corporations ? And , yes it is true, I asked a clerk last week at WF about a product that they were giving samples of. I asked if these corn chips were non-GMO (because it did not say so on the label like others do). The clerk told me that WF does not sell any products that contain GMO's. I told him that was a crock of dung ! Basically, I am asking if anybody knows of any turkeys being sold at the retail level that are free range organic and are not fed GMO corn or soy. There is still time before Thanksgiving, so hopefully some wise grocer or butcher shop can locate some good turkeys and probably sell a ton of them if they can guarantee that the birds are not fed GMO corn or soy feed.
Rico November 16, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I called the Good Earth store and spoke with an earthling in the meat dept. They do sell organic turkeys for $3.89 per lb. They are from Heidi-Deistel, the organic brand of Deistel. They are pasture raised and not fed corn or soy, come in 6 to 10 lb. sizes. So, I ordered a 10 pounder. They also sell organic grass fed pork, which I haven't seen yet for sale in southern Marin. I think that the Good Earth is my new place to shop for meat, even though it is a drive up to central Marin (Fairfax), it just might be worth the trek.
Bill McGee November 17, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Ricardo - I am not a fan of Whole Foods nor do I like the politics of their CEO. However I really dislike your practice of using false information to make your case. It is just not difficult Ricardo to search some trustworthy sites to verify your facts before posting. Whole Foods does in fact offer health insurance for their full time employees which includes medical, dental, and vision. The employee contribution for the insurance premium starts at $10 per paycheck and they also get a company funded personal wellness account to help pay for deductibles and other out of pocket medical expenses. I am certain their overall benefits are not as good as those available for union Retail Clerk positions at some other markets. The fact is that Whole Foods HAS to offer competitive benefits in order to compete in the labor marketplace for good employees. The right wing slant to this company is interesting. According to Wikipedia and similar internet sources, C.E.O. John Mackey has spoken about the "global warming hysteria. He believes that climate change will be good for the economy and that efforts to reverse it would be detrimental”. Yikes! It is no wonder he is on the (political) side that refers to the criticism of Genetically Modified Foods as “junk science”.
Rozalina Gutman November 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM
This campaign should be a lesson for strategizing for the next similar action that we the consumers must make and soon, and while the election energy is still there. The organizers should reach out to those, who can bank roll the substantial campagin - what about the celebs who wish to have a reasonable opportunity to know what is in theri food as well?
Bob Hunter November 19, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I may not be the first to comment that smart producers will more strongly emphasize on their labels that their products do NOT contain GMOs, and newly aware consumers will seek them out, again, thanks to the awareness created by the Prop 37 debate.


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