By Charles and Clarissa Mish
of Chickadee Farm
Pamm Larry, a former midwife, farmer, and business owner, quit her job to spark a campaign that last November came surprisingly close to defeating the Big Chemical and Big Food giants.
Recently, Larry toured Washington to support the grassroots effort to pass I-522, the GMO labeling initiative.
In our interview, she said she was thrilled to hear that Lopez Island’s Ken Akopianz and Marnie Reynolds, who spearheaded last year’s GMO seed ban for San Juan County, are rallying their grassroots base to pass I-522 in November.
Charles and Clarisssa: Despite having a strong lead in the polls in early fall, the Prop 37 campaign lost the election 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. What hurt the campaign?
Pamm: We had a 66 percent lead in September. But the coalition of Big Chemical and Junk Food raised $46 million compared to our $8 million. Oct. 1 they launched an all-out negative ad blitz – 2,3,4 ads per hour, day after day. By Oct. 11 we lost nearly 20 points!
Constrained by a lack of finances, the campaign leaders (not me) held off on advertising till the final weeks
of the campaign. When we finally released our Food Is Love ad, voters starting coming back to the fold. But since 50 percent of voters statewide vote by mail, we lost the early voters irrevocably.
C&C: How do you assess the chances of victory for GMO labeling here November 5?
P: I’m optimistic. Here’s why.
Bigger War Chest: The Yes side has raised $5 million, but taking into account that California’s ad market is six times more expensive than Washington’s, that equates in California to $30 million. With that amount we could have countered the negative ads right from the beginning and our campaign would have carried the day.
Here I was happy to see that when the No side launched their deceptive advertising, you were there to counter them with ads of our own right at the start.
Great Top Management: I am much impressed by Washington State Senator Marilyn Chase – and her daughter Karen Chase- both on top of it, very professional.
Growing Grass Roots: The regional leaders I met are top-notch, creative, deeply committed leaders.
Consider this: our California campaign had to start from scratch, with little voter awareness of the issues. Even after three weeks of battering by unanswered negative ads, we STILL came close to pulling off a victory – battling back to 48.6 percent of the votes, only 190,000 votes short in a state of 36 million people.
Here you have a bigger war chest so that you can run ads all throughout the campaign, great top management, a great grass roots movement coming on board, plus an extra year to educate voters and learn from our mistakes.
All across America people are pulling for Washington to finish the job we started in California!
Initiative Measure No. 522 concerns labeling of genetically-engineered foods.This measure would require most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stocks, if produced using genetic engineering, as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale.
Lopezians will have the chance to vote on this measure on Nov. 5, 2013. Ballots are mailed on Oct. 18.