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    Prop. 37 Is About Language, Not Concept
    By Hank Campbell | October 2nd 2012 11:30 AM | 12 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    People who are either clueless or shills for anti-science hysteria insist 'something is better than nothing' when it comes to laws about food, and that we can just 'fix' it despite its flaws but we should go ahead and pass it if we care about what we eat.

    It's smart to reject such simplistic black or white thinking.  Especially in California. This state has too many problems to count and 'fix them' should be an easy concept, except the legislature and 64% of the population remain so one-sided in their thinking nothing ever gets fixed because it is an echo chamber. Believing yet another bad law will magically get fixed when plenty of other bad laws have survived is in defiance of reality. 

    While Prop. 37 is being framed as a 'right to know', people who claim to be literate should actually read what it will do, not what partisans being financed by out-of-state special interests claim; instead of being about food transparency, it is a way to let less educated people vote on science and that appeal to populism about scary biology, coupled with intentionally vague language, is why virtually no credible media organization - in arguably the most left-wing state in the country - supports it. 

    Given the overwhelming majority of Democrats statewide and in the legislature, there was no need to do an end-run around government and make this a public referendum, unless we are to believe that Democrats don't care about food or science or the people and only outside special interest organic soap makers do.  Proponents of Prop. 37 know that since the law was created outside the legislature, it can only be amended or repealed the exact same way - no one in government can 'fix' it. The San Francisco Chronicle is against this initiative for that reason, noting as I did, "Californians have seen what can happen when attorneys seize on a voter-approved disclosure law as a tool for "shakedown lawsuits." Prop. 65, the 1986 initiative requiring disclosure of toxic chemicals, has been the subject of 16,000 legal actions..."

    Which is precisely the intent.  The outside special interests needed a California voter so they found the same guy who created Prop. 65. He denies he thought much about the wording he created, and when an attorney who got rich on shakedown lawsuits says he did not consider the ramifications of his own wording, you should reach for your wallet.

    The nonpartisan legislative analyst agrees that  Prop. 37 has been written so loosely that it can include any processed food. So despite claims that it won't force all-natural olive oil producers and 100% of grain products to remove any claims to be 'natural 'or face a lawsuit, that is exactly what it will do.  The 16,000 legal actions that helped zero people in California are a drop in the bucket when the entire food chain of those who grow, process or sell food are a prime target.   The people who will be impacted the most are those who already have a large part of their incomes devoted to food.

    Who will be helped?  Just the lawyers and the homeopathy and organic soap companies funding them.

    Comments

    This isnt about just health, this is about stopping corruption in these major monopolistic companies like Monsanto that use their patent layers to sue organic farmers because they are using "their" seeds. So if they get a little taste of their own medicine with the lawsuits, I am totally Ok with that. They have been suing organic farms for patent infringements for YEARS NOW, they have way too much control over the food industry. This is about taking some of that control away.

    I would rather the money go to the "homeopathy and organic soap companies" rather than the conglomerate corrupt monopolistic companies like Monsanto any day.

    Hank
    Wait, what?  So you are in support of unfair restriction of trade?  Maybe you need to read the Constitution.  All of your brethren say this is about health and transparency, you are the first to claim it is about penalizing companies you happen to dislike, though your honesty is at least refreshing, since almost all of the people against science really also are against corporations.  Why Big Government is cool but corporations are bad is a mystery of the modern progressive movement.  40 years ago hippies distrusted government.
    I would rather the money go to the "homeopathy and organic soap companies" rather than the conglomerate corrupt monopolistic companies like Monsanto any day.
    Sure, because you put your personal worldview ahead of reason and science and your social authoritarian desires make you want to impose your beliefs on everyone else.  Just like I have said numerous times.
    I am in support of restriction of "trade" as you call it, when a monopolistic company is emerging, yes absolutely.

    I am very much not against science at all. I understand things progress, but I am against using that science to manipulate food without any regard to the health consequences, and then using terms like "natural" to coax people into buying that processed very UNNATURAL food.

    I am not imposing beliefs on anyone, I am simply requesting that people who are uninformed at least have an awareness of the situation we are dealing with in the food industry. I think we can agree that our obesity and health problems as Americans can be attributed to the foods we eat, so why would taking a closer look at what we eat be a bad thing?

    My hope with this Prop is that someone that doesnt know what GMO means or what it is sees the label, looks it up and researches it, and makes an informed decision based on that information.

    Hank
    You don't need another draconian law for that.  The market wants it, the market will get it.  Why have lawsuits over a label when clearly anyone who cares can pay for a 'no GMO' label?

    I mean, this seems obvious, since you are not anti-science or social authoritarian and not out to violate the Constitution, as you just said.
    Gerhard Adam
    Why Big Government is cool but corporations are bad is a mystery of the modern progressive movement.
    I think you're over-simplifying by a fair amount here.  Government, of any size, is problematic, but there are legal provisions to ensure that it is replaced through voting, and allowing citizen action to help direct some of its affairs.  Hardly perfect, but there is an avenue by which change can occur.

    This has no corollary in corporations, and when coupled with the financial influence of corporations on government, the public rejects it.  Most people have recognized that this is the best government that money can buy, so it's hardly the case that big government is "cool".

    However, in the absence of an anarchistic system, government is the only tool we have to try and manage our society.  That's why it will always be a focal point in trying to deal with the issues people face.  Corporations have demonstrated that they have no loyalty to anyone or anything beyond their own economic interests, so depending on corporate altruism to solve problems is simply whistling in the wind. 

    I'm certainly no progressive, and I'm no fan of corporations or government.  Corporations showed where their interests lay, when they accepted hundreds of billions of dollars from taxpayers, while foreclosing on those same taxpayers because they wouldn't renegotiate a loan.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I believe the actual record is that Monsanto has never sued a single organic farm. Look it up.

    They have sued, just not organic folks because they know that they are not intending infringe.

    There is a lawsuit in appeal right now BY organic farms against Monsanto that recently got dismissed for this very reason - there is no history or indication that Monsanto has sued or threatened to sue them.

    Just to get the record straight.

    You are right, there are no lawsuits, but who needs a lawsuit when you can threaten a lawsuit, and what good is the organic farmer's crop once the patented seeds have cross pollinated? Sorry for the error, but they are still the devil.

    The text of the court preceedings is public. You can look it up yourself. They could not produce one out of the whole bunch of complaintants that could show or testify to any a kind of threat or harassment. It's convenient to elude or insinuate such things, but there should at least be one test case. The whole lawsuit was/is about proactively protecting themselves from the threat of lawsuit from Monsanto. So if such a thing exists in the huge numbers you act like, wouldn't just one of them be willing to testify to put an end to it?

    Even if you were correct, no amount of predatory lawsuits would be justified against people selling food. Just becuae the people that sold the seeds may have done something you percieve as wrong, that doesn't mean that farmers, wholeslers, processors, distributors and retailers should be subject to unfair lawsuits in some kind of twisted revenge scheme. If you want revenge at least target the right people.

    Fair enough on the lawsuits with Monsanto, I will retract that statement.

    Any lawsuits that come out of this prop will be based on non-compliance with a law that would be voted upon by the State of California; I am not sure how this is a bad thing? Any new law generates lawsuits. To stop this step towards better quality food because of a few law suits that might come out of it is absurd. Any costs incurred by these lawsuits would be invaluably recouped by a change in the state's health and a food industry's humility. I am willing to invest my money in my health, and I think the state/nation should, too.

    In the other 50 or so countries that do require labeling of GMOs, once labeling began, companies essentially removed GMOs from most food products and labeling became a non-issue. Does the US want to be the last big market of lab rats for GMOs? Our life expectancy in the US is 50th currently, behind the major countries that require labeling.

    The facts are so clear, and I do not see how the negatives of this prop outweigh the positives at all, even taking into account the added litigation. And despite the dramatic difference in financial support between the NO's and the YES's (almost 7 to 1) , the state of California is speaking loudly: WE WANT GMO LABELING.

    Thor Russell
    Will be glad when your election is over ...
    Thor Russell
    Hank
    Yeah, 85% US readers. But I wrote about New Zealand science yesterday!  I still made it a way to ridicule American politics, though.
    On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the No campaign was forced to pull one of their ads off the air after they misrepresented Stanford University.

    Still, Henry Miller appears on TV stations across the state every hour of every day – claiming Prop 37 is confusing. But Miller is confused about a lot of things – he also says cigarettes are not harmful and, in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan, claimed that low levels of nuclear radiation may be beneficial to our health.

    On Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle exposed misleading statements in the No on 37 ads. They note, for example, that our opponent's claim that Prop 37 will lead to higher food costs "is based on the opposition's own study; there is no independent data that corroborate that estimate." Whoops!

    $35 million can buy them the airwaves, but it can't buy them the facts.