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EWG President Ken Cook's statement on California Proposition 37

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oakland, Calif. – Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group and a California resident, issued the following statement on the defeat of Proposition 37 – the California ballot initiative that would have required foods made with genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled as such.

Last night, while California voters rejected a ballot measure on technicalities, we're confident they strongly support its underlying principle: that all of us have a right to know what's in our food, and that, specifically, we have a right to know if it has been genetically engineered.

But with a $45 million barrage of TV ads, mailers and Internet pop-ups, nearly all of which were outright dishonest and misleading, pesticide companies and big food interests were able to convince a solid majority of Californians that Proposition 37 was not the way to go about GMO labeling.

We predict that last night's outcome will be seen as the high water mark for opponents of GMO labeling. For pesticide companies like Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow and their close allies at Kellogg's and other food companies that fought against their customers' right to know, it will be all downhill from here.

If the future of food is about anything, it's about transparency. People want to know for themselves what's in food, who produced it, how it was grown and where. No one expects pesticide companies to do anything but resist that future. Why any food company would be on the wrong side of its customers, and history, is another matter.

During the 2012 campaign, we saw grassroots passion in California and nationwide generate the kind of energy Europeans mustered a decade ago for the right to know about GMOs in our food. That passion will only grow throughout the United States. Yesterday, it translated into 4.3 million votes in favor of Proposition 37 in California alone -- votes cast despite a relentless downpour of deception about the measure from its opponents.

EWG is committed to the GMO labeling fight straight through to victory. Our 1.3 million supporters have made it very clear that they expect us to hold big food companies and political leaders accountable to the public's right to know what's in our food. We will -- with the renewed energy and urgency we gained in our fight for Proposition 37. We thank the tens of thousands of EWG supporters in California who voted for Proposition 37 and the thousands of volunteers in California and across the country who contributed to the effort.

EWG is profoundly honored to have worked with the incredibly dedicated and courageous leaders of the Yes on 37, California Right to Know campaign. They may not have made new law yesterday, but beyond a doubt, they made history.