Ads and Apps in Californian GM Labelling Fight
November 6th is the big Election Day in the US. Americans get to vote on a whole host of things as well as a President. But only Californians are able to vote on whether the genetically engineered food sold in their state will be labelled.
The proposal – called Proposition 37 - has caused a major backlash from the GM and food industry. With a war chest now up to $41 million dollars, they are bombarding the airwaves with the ‘no to labelling’ messages; taking up more airtime than the Presidential candidates.
The power of ads
Many of the ads are misleading, a lot are aimed at causing confusion and some have been deceptive but they are having an effect. Support for labelling has almost lost its 26 point lead and is now barely ahead in the polls.
The Vote Yes campaign has just started to run its own TV ads but, with less than $5 million to spend, any voter that blinks is going to miss them. So it will be up to the campaign’s 10,000 volunteers to talk to people on the streets, on the phones and on the internet to make up the difference.
It is to be hoped that Californian’s have more respect for themselves and their democracy than to be swayed by TV commercials but if the ads do defeat the cause of labelling then maybe apps can redress the balance a bit.
The promise of apps
‘Fooducate’- a company that promotes the education of consumers through clear labelling, has developed an ‘app’ for smart phones that will allow US consumers to check the GM content of the foods they buy.
By scanning a product’s barcode with a phone, the app will give nutritional advice and the GM content of over 200,000 products.
In the absence of regulatory labelling the app can only give the likelihood of a product containing GM based on its ingredient list. So it’s not a guarantee of avoiding GMOs entirely. It will give a ‘definitely no-GMO’ result on products that are organic, or specify that they are non-GMO on the label.
The app is cheap, so those Americans who can afford a smart phone and access organic food will be able to keep GM products out of their diet. The rest will just have to wait for the day when democracy and transparency can defeat big business.
Full marks to ‘Fooducate’ but let’s hope that November 6th is that day.