October 29, 2013

GMO Labeling Campaigns


According to the latest polls the massive influx of corporate money into Washington is doing its job, and the numbers on the upcoming ballot initiative on GMO labeling, I-522, is a “statistical dead heat”.
This money, $17.2 million as of early October, has gone into assembling the usual prefab astroturf and flooding the media with ads full of lies. It all came from five members of the GMO cartel, led by Monsanto and DuPont, and from the industry group the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which illegally tried to shield the names of the sources of its $7+ million in spending.
But a suit by the state forced the GMA to reveal the names of the cowards who laundered money through it. These were led by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, and General Mills.
The Organic Consumers Association has been leading a boycott of these conglomerates who have such an unamerican hatred for consumer choice and democracy. Everyone should join this boycott. We’ll not only strike back at our enemies, but get a lot of worthless junk out of our diets in the process.
How does an anti-democracy campaign like this get results? It’s unlikely that it changes the mind of people who had already thought about the issue and were planning to vote Yes. So the target audience must be the noisome “undecided voters”, those who plan to vote but have no principles and no knowledge of the world, and who therefore let themselves be blown about like weathervanes. I’ve never understood the psychology myself; the apathetic non-voter makes far more sense. (I’m a principled non-voter myself, for lack of options. But if my state had a labeling initiative I’d go the polls to vote for it.)
The lesson of this is that anyone who wants to accomplish democratic and public interest goals through the ballot box will have to face up to the fact that she can’t just content herself with a purely rational and moral argument to the thoughtful part among the voters. We’ll also need to adjust this argument for the broader electorate.
The main lie the enemy tells is that GMO labeling will drive up prices as checkout, and this must be the lie that convinces “undecided” types to exert themselves to vote No. This is absurd on its face: Manufacturers are constantly changing their packaging. At any given time there must be dozens of different Corn Flakes boxes. None of this drives up the price.
So the response to this lie is a no-brainer – directly reject it as nothing but a lie.
Yes on 522 has done a better job of this (like it’s done a better job of everything) than the incompetent California Right to Know. But it still mucks things up a bit by getting into a battle of “reports” done by marketing groups. The campaign ends up speculatively conceding that labeling may cause prices to go up a bit, just far less than the cartel-commissioned report. This is poor publicity material – unduly complicated and falsely conceding points against oneself. When common sense truth is on your side, why wouldn’t you directly assert it, no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”?
Indeed, it’s likely that GMO labeling, as one of the first steps in breaking corporate control of the food system, will be one of the first steps toward lowering the real price we pay for food. Therefore it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say this will save the consumer money, and “Vote Yes to Spend Less” would be an appropriate slogan. 
But then there’s the money. Any such campaign has to assume it’ll be greatly outspent, and that the enemy will have a far greater mainstream media presence. So it follows that the campaign has to base its strategy on reaching the maximum number of people by alternate routes. This is another reason why we need to organize these campaigns, not just as disposable election campaigns, but by forming permanent grassroots organizations. Only this will muster the necessary volunteer fervor which will be necessary, not just to counteract the money imbalance in an electoral campaign, but to carry the movement forward toward the necessary goal of the total abolition of GMOs. 



  1. Good morning Russ. Methinks this link is not OT
    NHS pulls the plug on its £11bn IT system
    -its finally dawning that centralized super hierarchical planning with magical computer systems WILL NEVER WORK for anyone but a few corporate-government lawmaker enabled insiders. And that ‘they’ are not immune to its affects. I’m optimistic this morning upon the news. So, maybe all this hardship has a silver lining after all?

    Comment by LeeAnne — October 29, 2013 @ 8:40 am

    • Good afternoon LeeAnne. It’s rare to see the system give up on anything, no matter how worthless and bloated. Even more rare, it looks like it might even be replaced by something better.

      Comment by Russ — October 29, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

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