State GOP split on Prop 37

By Yannick A. Phillips | Special to The Sun

Last month, the California Republican Party (CRP), with its fresh motto, “Party of Yes,” held their annual convention in Burbank to discuss numerous party issues. On the agenda was voting on state propositions, including Proposition 37, GMO Food Labeling.

The proponents of Prop 37 appeared at the CRP Initiative committee to give a brief overview. One of the committee’s roles is to recommend/not recommend to the entire body of delegates which position the party should take on ballot propositions. But although the committee provided a perfunctory opportunity to ask questions, not one remark was made or question asked. This was quickly followed by a swift and unanimous vote against the proposition of food choice labeling by less than 15 committee members present in front of a packed room, which included CRP Chair, Tom Del Beccaro.

The seemingly ‘sewn up’ vote was disappointing, particularly as the general polling of those in support of labeling of GMO foods consistently hovers in the 75-91% range, even among conservatives. In addition, diverse organizations such as the Ca. State Grange, Weston A. Price Foundation, the Redding Tea Party, the Ca. Democratic Party and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, to name a few, support the initiative.

Prop 37 proponents also attended the California Congress of Republicans (CCR) meeting, a grassroots organization chartered by the state Republican Party. There, with ample time given to speak thanks to the CCR Chairman, Prop 37 spokespersons Pamm Larry and Dave Murphy were able to dispel some of the untruths and negative spin presented by the opposition.

The CCR members took a neutral position after it was admitted by one of the CCR members that the leadership might have been premature in taking a hard stance on opposing Prop 37.

A slew of “No on Prop 37” flyers, paid for by behemoth DuPont company and others, were distributed throughout the day to delegates. There were also small bags of flavored nuts with a “No on Prop 37” sticker covering, very symbolically, the entire nutrition and ingredient label. These wee handed out by one of the main spokespeople against the choice of GMO food labeling.

Although this same Republican opponent and spokesperson for “No on Prop 37” relies on labeling of foods for a medical condition, the same person fiercely advocated during the three-day convention against others wishing for GMO labeling, claiming that the proposition would attract a swarm of lawsuits. What the opponent neglected to mention is that lawsuits can be claimed regardless, at any time on any present or existing labeling or on future labeling, with or without Prop 37. That argument is moot.

We enjoyed speaking to the officers from the Republican Liberty Caucus, which work to advance their ideas within the Ca. Republican Party. They greatly support the Non-GMO Project (they made the suggestion to have a Non-GMO Project booth at the next Ca. Republican Party Convention), they support organics and avoid GMO corn and soy, but oppose Prop 37 because of their Caucus’ firm stance on limited government and more of a free market. That’s OK… they’re doing good work on behalf of organics and non-GMOs in a different way.

Overall, the ‘Yes’ campaign felt encouraged by the convention delegates, who provided numerous encouraging words and support, many eager to learn more and who were appreciative of Prop 37’s presence at the Convention. Included in the support was a former state legislator who endorsed the campaign.

The Prop 37 campaign, farmers and volunteers will continue to advocate for Republican voters until election day and the campaign will continue to be an all-partisan. We know that Californians of all backgrounds — political, socio-economical, religious and farming — want to know what is in their foods; food is what unites us all.

Yannick A. Phillips, is the Ca. State Grange, Legislative Outreach Advocate for farmers and consumers. The California State Grange has endorsed Proposition 37. Find out more at Caringtoknow.org.

What is Prop 37?

The Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative is on the November 6 ballot in California as an initiated state statute. If Prop 37 is approved by voters, it will:
• Require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
• Prohibit labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”
• Exempt from this requirement foods that are “certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.


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