Voters in California Fight Monsanto

California voters will decide on a plethora of ballot initiatives Tuesday that carry critical implications for the future of the Golden State and, potentially, the nation.

Take Proposition 37, a measure to require labeling of genetically modified food. The “Right to Know” campaign has stirred a multi-million-dollar backlash from biotech giants like Monsanto and DuPont, but polls show the proposition in a dead heat. If approved, Prop 37 could trigger similar efforts in other parts of the country, given California’s tradition as a vanguard state.

Organized labor, meanwhile, is fighting off one of the biggest threats yet to its survival. Proposition 32, backed by wealthy conservatives, would cripple unions’ ability to raise money and donate to political campaigns, effectively silencing the voice of labor in state politics. Recent polls suggest the issue is unlikely to pass, but the measure’s presence has sent chills down the spines of union activists.

Public education in the state is hanging by a thread as voters debate Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30. The initiative would raise taxes primarily on rich Californians to fund schools and higher education, as well as some services. Should it fail, education would be hit with $6 billion in cuts this year, driving an already ailing system into further disrepair.

“The consequences are almost too dire to imagine,” said Karla Zombro, Field Director for California Calls, a coalition of social justice organizations campaigning in support of Prop 30.

The remaining eight ballot propositions, three are of special interest: increasing penalties for human trafficking, reforming California’s draconian three-strikes law, and outlawing the death penalty.

Here again, California could lead the way.

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