Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Big Organic Joins Monsanto in Fighting Prop 37

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

It's no secret that giant agribusinesses like Monsanto are spending millions of dollars trying to defeat Proposition 37 on the November ballot. The Right to Know Initiative would require food companies to label products that contain genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs. Big Ag is worried that the labeling requirements will slow the massive growth of the GMO industry and slash its profits. What is less known, however, is that several major food corporations that sell organic food products have joined Monsanto in trying to kill Prop 37.

These companies, also sometimes known as Big Organic, include Kellogg, which owns Morningstar Farms, and had donated at least $632,500 to the No on 37 campaign as of last week. General Mills, which owns the Cascadian Farm brand, had donated $889,000. Dean Foods, which owns Horizon Organic, had donated $248,000. Coca-Cola, which owns Odwalla juices, had contributed at least $1,164,000. ConAgra, owner of the Orville Redenbacher and Hunt's organic brands, had donated $520,000. Del Monte Foods, which sells organic canned tomatoes, had donated $660,000. All told, including $4.2 million from Monsanto, the No on 37 campaign had gathered at least $24.9 million in contributions as of September 5 - with the election still two months away. 

"It will be surprising if that number doesn't go up exponentially," said Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group based in Wisconsin that keeps close tabs on the organic food industry. "[T]his campaign will get as much money as it needs. They won't waste any money - they will do polling, see what works, and apply resources where needed. It's the classic fight of money versus people."

And so far, money has a perfect record versus GMO labeling in this country. Nineteen states have attempted to pass laws similar to Prop 37, and all of them failed. Attempts to get the FDA to pay attention to GMOs have also failed.

But with the November election fast approaching, the Yes on 37 campaign enjoys a significant advantage in public opinion. A recent poll by Pepperdine University showed that 65 percent of California residents favor GMO labeling. The Right to Know campaign also boasts an impressive roster of endorsements, including Alice Waters, the Sierra Club, and Greenpeace, along with Slow Food groups up and down the state, labor unions, and alternative health magazines. Small local companies that sell organic products are also helping fund the Yes on 37 campaign, including Annie's, which contributed $50,000, and Clif Bar, which donated $100,000.  

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