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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Venice Bodes Ill For Proposition 37

Matt Pressberg |
November 6, 2012 | 2:35 p.m. PST


(Dawn Megli/Neon Tommy)
(Dawn Megli/Neon Tommy)
This election's Proposition 37, which is a proposal to label most foods with genetically modified (GM) ingredients, seems tailor made for the health-conscious California electorate. It's hard to drive past one of the approximately 17,000 Whole Foods stores in Los Angeles without seeing giant "Yes on 37" billboards hung from the door, and the company's co-CEO has actively campaigned for the initiative.

I went to the massive and packed Venice Whole Foods earlier this morning, and after passing the obligatory storefront banner, I walked into a store full of people wearing Obama gear and happy to gush about "the best president ever," but without much to say about Proposition 37, despite being in its core tribal heartland.

Proposition 37 is kind of a solution without a problem: Even shoppers who are concerned with nutrition don't really understand why GM foods are bad (other than being associated with Monsanto, which is objectively a scumbag corporation), and scientific studies that have tried to find legitimate health concerns with GM foods are inconclusive. Pro-37 people are sending the message that other countries, even ones with as low a priority on quality control and Russia and China label GM foods, and we don't—a different kind of American exceptionalism. I can't recall a single instance where this type of argument has swayed American voters. We really don't pay much attention to what other countries do. See: health care.

With Whole Foods as a corporation making a big effort in support of 37 (which a cynic might chalk up to the company using this issue to justify its exorbitant prices), one might expect more of a push by employees and campaigners, especially given the fact that this was one of its most crowded stores in a very liberal part of town and it just happened to be election day, but there was nothing. The Yes on 37 effort was one that looked like the type of final-day campaign you would see from an initiative that was certain to pass or fail, and not one that hangs in the balance.

President Obama should win something along the lines of 90 percent of the Venice Whole Foods vote, but neither he or popular local Democrats have said anything about GM foods, and the TV ad war seems to have been won by the opposition. Based on the sentiment this morning, it looks like America will still lag behind Russia in terms of labeling GM foods, while remaining ahead on every other count.

Read more about Proposition 37 here.

Reach Editor-at-Large Matt Pressberg here.



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