Lies, big money and criminal investigations.  Sounds like the makings of a cable TV melodrama, not the fight over a voter ballot initiative.

But the U.S. Department of Justice is now actively pursuing an investigation of a complaint that California’s  No on 37 Campaign has made illegal use of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s official seal in its campaign literature.  This is just one example in a long line of tricks and deceptions the No on 37 campaign has employed to confuse voters.

California’s Prop 37, which would require labeling of food products that contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) and give consumers more information when making purchases at the grocery store, is currently polling dead even.  Widespread voter support for the initiative began to plummet after the campaign against Prop 37, led by Monsanto and other multi-national food processors, began spending down its $45 million war chest to kill the proposal via TV ads and mailers filled with misinformation to confuse voters.

The No on 37 campaign has been called out on its deceptive practices by groups that support a labeling law, including Consumers Union.    The current investigation is based on a complaint that the opposition group fabricated a quote from the FDA and attached the agency’s logo on a mailer that went to voters in possible violation of federal law.   An FDA representative confirmed that the agency never made such statements with respect to Prop 37.

Says the Yes on 37 campaign: “This pattern of fraud tells the true story about how far the world’s largest pesticide and junk food companies are willing to go to keep American consumers from having a choice about genetically engineered foods.”

 

11/5/12 Update:  The U.S. Department of Justice has clarified that it has not opened a formal criminal investigation but that it has referred the matter to the FDA.  In an October interview with KPBS regarding the No on 37 mailer featuring the FDA’s official seal, FDA spokesperson Morgan Liscinsky said, “The FDA has not made such statements with respect to Prop 37.  We cannot speculate on Prop 37 and have no comments at this time.”