No-GMO Camp Talks Next Steps at EcoFarm
February 6, 2013
Most proponents of labeling on genetically modified foods saw Prop 37’s defeat in November as a loss.
Not EcoFarm boardmember Thomas Whittman, as Weekly ag reporter Sara Rubin reported late last month with her piece “Failed campaign to label GMOs regroups with EcoFarm Conference springboard.”
Rubin follows that report with insight from EcoFarm itself, where a panel discussed where the No-GMO goes from here:
In a room of crunchy farmers—types that know issues like soil pHs as the personalities of their goats—it can look like panelists are preaching to the choir when it comes to particularly emotional issues like genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
But after a kumbaya presentation spinning the loss on Prop. 37 as a good thing—there was voter education, grassroots organization, 34 other states now have some kind of labeling effort underway—it was the Q&A that revealed there’s some tension within the anti-GMO camp.
One person accused the groups of failing to cooperate, focused instead on “empire building.”
The four panelists finally sparred a little when it came to one question-asker urging them to really reflect on what went wrong with Prop. 37—they lost, after all.
“There was disagreement about strategy,” said Rebecca Spector of the Center for Food Safety. To have saturated TV and radio would’ve run $10-12 million—cash they didn’t raise.
But Pamm Larry, the retired Chico herb farmer and midwife and Prop. 37 “instigator,” insisted on sticking to door-to-door outreach: “I believe if we continue to say it's about money, we will never have GMO labeling because they will always outspend us.”
Larry’s preference: a “guerilla-like” campaign.”
*Wenonah Hauter of Food & Water Watch said labeling GMOs is about not just food but democracy, considering the biotech industry outspent labeling proponents by more than 10 to 1.*
They’re thinking something could be back to California voters in 2014 or 2016, but there’s also disagreement about whether a ballot initiative is the best process at all. Some panelists said a legislative approach would be preferable, working out the kinks and imperfections from the top down.