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A Movement Grows Around GMO Labeling From Iowa to California: Will Obama Keep His Promise in a Second Term?

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on November 2, 2012 - 2:26pm

Michael Pollan: Obama “kind of pre-endorsed Proposition 37”

LOS ANGELES - In a recent interview, journalist and best-selling author Michael Pollan argued that then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama “pre-endorsed” Prop 37 in 2007.

While locked in a dead heat during the Iowa caucus in 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama made a promise to label genetically engineered foods in front of 400 Iowa farmers and received a round of applause. It was a bold stance in a state where farmers grow more genetically engineered crops than anywhere else in the nation.

Last year Food Democracy Now! released an exclusive video of the now famous pledge that helped spur a national movement for labeling genetically engineered foods.

Obama “kind of pre-endorsed Proposition 37,” said best-selling author Michael Pollan, citing the video in a recent interview with Amy Goodman <http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/24/michael_pollan_californias_prop_37_fight#transcript> about the national significance of California’s Proposition 37 initiative to label genetically engineered foods.

Pollan cited President Obama’s 2007 comments captured in this video <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqaaB6NE1TI>. In the clip, Senator Obama says <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqaaB6NE1TI>, “Here’s what I’ll do as president. I’ll immediately implement country-of-origin labeling, because Americans should know where their food comes from. We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying.”

Dave Murphy, co-chair of the California Right to Know campaign and founder of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots food and farm policy advocacy organization based in Iowa, organized and filmed the event where Obama made this promise to a room of 400 Iowa farmers.

“Obama’s support for GMO labeling in Iowa in November 2007 helped distinguish him as a candidate from his opponents in the state that produces the most genetically engineered crops in the U.S. Today a national movement has put that issue on the political map in California,” said Murphy.

Prop 37, to be voted on in California, would require labeling of genetically engineered foods. If Prop 37 passes, California would join 61 countries that already require this label to inform their citizens. “Americans have a basic right to know what’s in their food and on November 6th, California will lead the way,” said Murphy.

As supporters of Prop 37 head into the final days before the election, they face stiff opposition from the world’s most powerful pesticide and junk food manufacturers, who have raised more than $45 million to defeat this grassroots initiative, including more than $8.1 million from Monsanto, the world’s largest manufacturer of biotech seeds and pesticides.

“If [Prop 37] passes—and let us assume that Obama is re-elected—he will see there are votes in reforming the food supply. That’s why this is not just a California issue. This is a national issue,” said Pollan. “This is the first time for the food movement to pass from that moment of voting with your fork to voting with your votes for a different kind of food system.”

Pollan argued that the passage of Prop 37 would create the climate needed for President Obama to follow up on this 2007 campaign promise.

“The food industry is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, industries in Washington,” Pollan argued. “Obama made a calculation early on that he did not have enough support behind him to move against this system and try to reform it…I think Obama simply judged the politics were not ripe yet. Well, this will ripen them dramatically, should [Prop 37] pass.”

In a recent New York Times article, Pollan describes why Prop 37 should matter to anyone who cares about food. http://www.carighttoknow.org/vote_for_the_dinner_party “Right now all eyes are on California. When Prop 37 passes it will pave the way for a national labeling standard of genetically engineered foods. Politicians and food companies need to realize one thing: the whole world is watching and the outcome of this election is only the beginning,” said Murphy.

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Food Democracy Now! is a grassroots community of more than 300,000 Americans dedicated to building a sustainable food system that protects our natural environment, sustains farmers and nourishes families. http://www.fooddemocracynow.org

 

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