An overwhelming majority of California voters favor Proposition 37, which would require new labels on genetically engineered foods, according to a poll released today. But support is likely to erode in the next month as Californians are exposed to more ads against the measure, says the study by agricultural economists at Oklahoma State University.
The poll, which was paid for by a university endowment, found that 76.8 percent of California voters said they plan to vote "yes" on Proposition 37 to require more labeling of food. But almost half of those people (46 percent) switched to a "no" vote when asked if they would still support the measure if it increased food prices. Support also diminished after poll respondents were shown an ad urging they vote against Proposition 37.
It's likely Californians will see and hear a lot more ads against Proposition 37 than for it in the weeks before the Nov. 6 election. Opponents have raised $34.5 million, mostly from companies that make pesticides and genetically engineered seeds -- including Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer -- as well as major soda and snack food companies including Pepsi, Coke, Nestle and General Mills. Supporters have raised $4.6 million, mostly from alternative health website Mercola.com, organic food companies, and natural products such as Dr. Bronners soap.
The authors of the study, Jayson L. Lusk and Brandon McFadden -- both agricultural economists at Oklahoma State -- said they have not received any funding from interests involved in the fight over Proposition 37.
"Although not residents of the state of California, we are interested in the outcome of the
Proposition because it could affect farmers and consumers throughout the nation," they write.
The report continues:
"The European Union's mandatory labeling requirement for GE food and their slow pace at approving some GE seed varieties has caused trade disruptions between the US and the EU, litigation at the World Trade Organization, and has led to logistical difficulties for food firms working in the US and Europe. Similarly, Prop 37 could disrupt the flow of agricultural products to and from California and the other United States and would lead to food companies having to deal with competing requirements in different parts of the country... The ultimate consequences are difficult to project."
The Oklahoma State poll follows a Los Angeles Times poll last week that found support for Proposition 37 at 61 percent.