Prop 37 Defeated: California Voters Reject Mandatory GMO-Labeling

11/07/2012 11:39 am ET | Updated Nov 08, 2012

California voters rejected Prop 37, which would have required retailers and food companies to label products made with genetically modified ingredients.

Millions of dollars, mostly from outside of California, were poured into campaigns both for and against Prop 37. But the donations that came in weighed heavily in favor of Prop 37's opponents.

Companies like Monsanto and The Hershey Co. contributed to what was eventually a $44 million windfall for "No on Prop 37," while proponents were only able to raise $7.3 million, reports California Watch.

Still, despite the lopsided campaign funding power, voting on Prop 37 was relatively close. As of this story's publish time (98.5 percent of precincts reporting), Prop 37 was able to gain 47 percent of California's vote.

Opponents of Prop 37 blitzed California with campaign ads on a variety of different reasons GMO labeling would be costly for consumers and punitive to businesses like small farms and mom-and-pop stores. The anti-Prop 37 movement also gained endorsements from prominent publications like the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle -- not necessarily because the newspapers were against GMO labeling, but because of the way the ballot initiative was written.

Meanwhile, Prop 37 found supporters among celebrities, the restaurant world and food movement activists like Michael Pollan. In a piece for the New York Times, Pollan hailed its potential for igniting a nationwide debate about the industrial food complex:

Already, Prop 37 has ignited precisely the kind of debate -- about the risks and benefits of genetically modified food; about transparency and the consumer’s right to know -- that Monsanto and its allies have managed to stifle in Washington for nearly two decades.

If California had passed Prop 37, it would have been the first state in the U.S. to pass GMO labeling legislation. China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, countries in the European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, India and Chile are just a few of the nations that already require GMO foods to be labeled.

While on the campaign trail in 2007, President Barack Obama promised to label GMO foods if elected.

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