Prop 37 Countdown: Fighting Money with New Media
By Eric Anderson
The No on 37 campaign has been carpet-bombing the airwaves with misleading ads, hoping to pummel people with enough misinformation to defeat the measure. Their spending has increased to more than $40 million, more than all donations for and against Props 31, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 40 combined. This has definitely taken on a toll on the poll numbers, which show the Yes side down for the first time.
Since the campaign in support of Prop 37 is being primarily funded by average Californians who can’t compete with the $1 million-a-day that the pesticide and junk food companies are spending to mislead undecided voters, we’ve had to take a more creative approach. Using a combination of new media and on-the-ground organizing, a grassroots campaign has taken shape to fight for our right to know what’s in our food.
Prop 37’s for luddites? WRONG
One of the arguments Prop 37’s opponents use is that the people fighting for their right to know what’s in their food hate technology. Really? Then how to you explain tech entrepreneur Ali Partovi who launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo driven by an irreverent video about GE foods. His strategy primarily consists of using Facebook ads to draw in more supporters and spread the word about Prop 37. Partovi says that enacting Prop 37 would “return us to a baseline of basic transparency from which a free market can thrive.”
Or how to you explain this poignant op-ed by the molecular geneticist who helped commercialize the world’s first GE whole food?
Prop 37’s bad for business? Don’t tell these chefs for successful restaurants
With California being the premiere “foodie” state, it’s not surprising that an army of renown celebrity chefs – 1,200 so far – have joined godmother of California cuisine Alice Waters in pledging their support for Prop 37. So far, it has received over 1,200 signatures. Overall, more than 2,000 businesses have spoken out in support of Prop 37.
Prop 37 will cause family farmers to go out of business? Fact check please!
Over 2,000 farmers have endorsed Prop 37, undermining the narrative that the initiative will hurt farmers. The No on 37 campaign has used cotton farmer Ted Sheely in their advertisements. Sheely is a longtime ally of big agribusinesses having previously served on the board of the Westlands Water District, one of the most powerful water districts in the state. He hardly represents that average farmer.
Here at Food & Water Watch, we’ve released several videos featuring Danny DeVito, Bill Maher, Dave Matthews and Jillian Michaels as well as adorable kids. The overwhelming positive response led to a generous outpouring of individual donors, helping us catapult these ads on the airwaves.
Illustrating the power of on-the-ground grassroots organizing, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Prop 37. “It’s not often that the LA City Council votes unanimously to support a measure, but Prop 37 was a no-brainer. We have the right to know what’s in the food we’re eating and feeding our families,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, the resolution’s author. “I’m proud to be a part of this true grassroots campaign in our struggle against the biggest pesticide and junk food companies in the world.” The LA City Council joins countless other local governments and politicians including the City of Long Beach and Senator Barbara Boxer in supporting Prop 37.
There’s no doubt that the odds and the money are stacked against Prop 37, but we have truth and people power on our side. That said, for the next 6 days, everyone who believes in their basic right to know whether or not their food is genetically engineered needs to be working to counteract the opposition’s expensive disinformation campaign. The California Right to Know campaign has set up an easy phone banking system so that anyone can help get out the vote for Prop 37 from their own couches – even people from out of state. So make a call and take on Big Food head on by helping Prop 37 to pass.
Eric is the California Communications and Outreach Assistant in Food & Water Watch’s San Francisco office.