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Organic Consumers Association

"Expert" Detractors on Proposition 37: Confusing the Public on GMOs

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our California News page.

 All eyes are on California where Proposition 37, which, if passed, would require labeling of foods produced using genetic engineering. It will be put to voters on November 6th. In recent weeks, the battle over GMO labeling has taken an ugly turn. In a true David versus Goliath battle, the opposition will apparently stop at nothing to defeat the measure.

 What are they so afraid of?

 A common corporate tactic, well-honed by the tobacco industry, is to hire "third-party experts" to bring your message to the public, especially through the media. The idea is that academic types carry much more credibility than the likes of Monsanto when it comes to defending genetically engineered food.

University of California at Monsanto?

 It's no accident that the "No on Prop 37" campaign has many academics on its side at the University of California at Davis. The school enjoys millions of dollars in research grants and other largesse from the biotech industry.

 A 2004 story in the Sacramento Bee1 describes UC Davis as a research incubator for Big Biotech:

"You name it, and biotechnology companies help pay for it at UC Davis: laboratory studies, scholarships, post-doctoral students' salaries, professors' travel expenses, even the campus utility bill."

 According to Bill Liebhardt, former director of the UC system's sustainable farming program:

"'The public is having a hard time figuring out where the corporate door ends and where the university door begins.' And UC Davis cell biologist Eduardo Blumwald says that biotech companies 'are influencing the way we do research.'"

 That would certainly explain why so many UC Davis professors profess support for the "No on 37" campaign. 

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