On the evening of November 7, 2012, I sat somberly in a press conference in San Francisco, surrounded by people I’d been working side-by-side with for nearly a year. We’d just narrowly lost (48.5% to 51.5%) a hard-fought, grassroots campaign to our well-funded, relentless, unscrupulous enemy: Monsanto.
I was disheartened. Deflated. Angry. And I was thinking about you. About how tens of thousands of organic consumers like yourself, from every state in the country, had responded to our battle cry. How you’d dug deep into your pockets, over and over, raising more than $1.5 million for OCA and the Organic Consumers Fund to help pass Proposition 37, California’s Right to Know GMO citizens’ ballot initiative.
We’d let you down. I took it personally.
Now, almost five months later, the sting of defeat has given way to a surge of new hope. The truth is, we may not have passed this one GMO labeling law, but we sparked a national debate that has grown louder with each passing day. Your passion, your energy, and, as it turns out, your donations, large and small, every single one of them, mattered.
What happened last year is a lesson in the power of grassroots movement-building and marketplace pressure. Because you rallied around Prop 37, you inspired groups in more than 30 other states to work together toward statewide GMO labeling laws. Because you joined us in boycotting the food companies who sided with the biotech industry and poured millions into defeating Prop 37, those companies have split with Monsanto and told the FDA it’s time for a federal GMO labeling law. Because you chimed in when we told Whole Foods that we thought the largest organic retailer should do more for consumers on the GMO labeling issue, Whole Foods recently announced a new voluntary GMO labeling policy.
Because you didn’t give up, we won’t either.
It’s time to pick up where we left off last year. And we need your help. In November, voters in Washington State will decide on I-522, a citizens’ ballot initiative to label GMOs. The OCA has pledged $500,000 to the I-522 campaign. If we raise half of that - $250,000 – by April 1, a generous donor will match those funds so we can fulfill our pledge. Can you help us reach our goal by April 1 with a donation today? You can donate online with a credit card or Paypal. Or you can mail a check. Or phone in your donation.
Why would I put myself – and you – through another grueling campaign for a GMO labeling law? Because when you’re right, you don’t give up. After all, how many years did it take to win the vote for women? To pass the civil rights law? To get warning labels on cigarettes?
But it’s not just a matter of not giving up. It’s also a matter of protecting your investment. The money you contributed to Prop 37 created huge forward momentum for the GMO labeling movement. It had an impact that still reverberates today. If we stop fighting now, we throw away our investment.
We’ve accomplished a lot since last November. But we still need state labeling laws. And Washington State - where farmers are determined to protect their non-GMO export crops, and consumers and fishermen are adamantly opposed to the FDA’s imminent approval of GE salmon - is a fertile battleground.
I-522 is our next best opportunity to pass a state GMO labeling law. Just as with California, a GMO labeling law in Washington State will force food companies to label nationally. And while a federal labeling law would likely be written by lobbyists to favor Big Food and Big Biotech, I-522 was written with consumers’ best interests as top priority.
Momentum is on our side, as are Washington State consumers, legislators, farmers and fishermen. We can’t let this opportunity pass us by. We must not give up this fight.
Thank you for being such a huge part of this critical battle for the right to know what’s in our food.
Ronnie Cummins National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund
P.S. Prop 37 would never have had the impact it had, without your support. Our $1.5 million donation to the campaign came from individual donations, from people like you. If you still believe in this fight, please donate today. Help us show Monsanto that we intend to win the GMO labeling battle!
Paid for by the Organic Consumers Fund Committee to Label GMOs in Washington State.