Proposition 37 in California Hanging in the Balance as the Election Draws Near

Written By Jessica Nichols

As this election draws near, both sides of every debate are revving their engines and gearing towards the final battle. Proposition 37, which requires labeling on genetically modified foods, is despite having a strong lead earlier in the race, is finding its footing as opponents to the bill fight back.

In a poll from California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy done four weeks ago, the labeling initiative was supported by more than two-thirds of Californians who said they would vote for it November 6. However, in their latest poll from Tuesday, October 29, results showed the support for the initiative to have fallen to only 39 percent, with the opposition nearing 51 percent of the vote.

The opposition is largely funded by biotechnology company, Monsanto, DuPont, and PepsiCo Inc, managing to sway public opinion with a $46 million campaign against genetically modified organism, popularly referred to as GMO, labeling, making Proposition 37 one of the most well-funded ballot measures fights.

Opponents to the initiative claim that it is “poorly written,” and will result in costly effects to farmers and consumers, adding $400 to their monthly grocery costs. These ads also point at “special interest exemptions” toward restaurants and animals that consume GMO feed.

Those in support of the initiative say that consumers have the right to know what is going in the food that they eat, and say that claims to higher expenses to consumers, farmers, and businesses have no founding.

Many of the processed foods that we see stocking the shelves at grocery stores use GMOs—corn and soybeans being some of the top most used. These genetically modified foods are crossed with the DNA of other species to resist insects and pesticides.

Each side claims insufficient evidence and shotty science on the part of the other with the intent to mislead voters. And without sufficient government testing on the long-term effects of GMOs, the voter is left to the mercy of both sides and their campaign talking points.

Currently, the United States does not require labeling on GM foods so long as they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. The US also does not require pre-market safety testing of these foods. Supporters of the initiative cry that we just do not know what these foods could do to people health-wise, especially after long-term use in our daily diets.

DuPont and Monsanto, the lead in contributions at $8 million contributed, lead the industry in their genetically modified seed businesss.

As the clock counts down to the election, it seems that opponents may have surpassed those in favor of the proposition. However, only time will tell if voters will support or opposed this polarized and controversial topic.

California NAACP Backs Pot Legalization Proposition

Seal of approval?

When I first heard about this, I thought, “Oh man. Here comes a tidal wave of tasteless jokes,” and that’s probably true, but it’s an issue worth thinking about, anyway. The head of California’s NAACP chapter has come out solidly in favor of the state’s latest citizen marijuana legalization effort, Proposition 19. I’ll give you a paragraph break here to quickly run through the possible jokes you might hear on late-night talk shows soon.

Okay. Alice Huffman, head of the NAACP’s California State Conference, says there is such a racial component to this issue that she can’t stay out of it. I will admit, I probably wouldn’t have thought of this angle if she hadn’t spoken up. But it’s true, and the numbers bear it out. In several California counties, black people get cited for pot more than whites at anywhere from twice to four times the rate. Given the ubiquity of pot use in general, I’d say she’s got a point that can’t be ignored.

There could be myriad reasons for this numbers gap. I don’t know what they all would be, but we could start with the possibility that marijuana use is more open or public within the black community. It may or may not be, but it’s a possible contributor. In any case, it’s definitely an angle worth throwing into the discussion.

Do Fish Matter More than People?

delta smelt

delta smelt

Living in the area of the United States known as the “salad bowl” I am used to eating foods that are grown locally and had never seen food from outside of the states offered in the grocery store.  Lately all I have seen is food from other countries and I am not too comfortable about it for a few reasons.

In a nearby area I have seen the oddest decision made to save a fish and allow the old almond orchards to wither and die.  Farmers in the Central Valley of California have had their irrigation shut down due to the preservation of a fish by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation.  Entire towns are without work and  unemployment is at 40 percent. 

Almond Orchard

Almond orchards abounded here for as many years as I can remember and now the trees are dead and we are importing nuts from other countries.  This makes little sense.  California Federal Judge Oliver Wanger of the Federal District Court favored the fish on August 31, 2007.   He severely limited water delivery to the San Joaquin Valley and as such the heavily agricultural area that we once relied upon for much of our food has a lot of happy smelt and a lot of dead almond trees. 

California Loses more Money as Movie Crews Leave for Canada and Beyond

Californian movie sets like this are growing ever more scarce by the year

In 2003, California’s world share of studio films – or, in other words, the movies made by the six biggest studios – was at a healthy 66 percent; by 2008 it had plummeted to a meager 34 percent. To question how Hollywood has slowly become the least popular place to make movies, is to trace the roots back to 1998, when Canada first started to offer incentive tax breaks for producers and crews who were willing to conduct business outside of California. Since then, seven U.S. states, and 24 different countries have begun competing with grants, rebates, and tax credits promising to eliminate as much as 40 percent of the cost for shooting a film.

Product of Vancouver, Canada

The reason behind the madness is simple economics; when a monstrous production arrives in any location, there are instantly a few hundred new jobs that pop up out of thin air (which is especially fantastic when the given city doesn’t have the money to build factories). California, which is currently suffering from a hard budget crisis, has managed to get ten feature films shot on location in Los Angeles by using what modest incentive the golden state could muster.

Perhaps the city of L.A. should offer up free gas masks or parking spots to those who do decide to continue making movies in California.