Op-Ed: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — 'No on 37' misleading public

Posted Oct 9, 2012 by Anne Sewell
The "No on 37" campaign, opposing the proposition to label GMOs in California, has once again hit trouble for misleading the public. This time from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
California Right to Know
California Right to Know
California Right to Know
The latest critique to the "No on 37" campaign comes in the form of a press release from the world's largest organization for food and nutrition professionals, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This press release states that the "No on 37" campaign "misled" the public in its ballot argument, printed in the Secretary of State's Official California Voter Information Guide.
The press release reads as follows:
CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is calling for voters to be made aware of an error in the California Official Voter Information Guide regarding Proposition 37, which inaccurately states that the Academy "has concluded that biotech foods are safe."
The false statement is used as an "Argument Against Proposition 37" in the voter's guide.
"We are concerned that California's voters are being misled to believe the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals is against Proposition 37, when in fact, the Academy does not have a position on the issue," said registered dietitian Ethan A. Bergman, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"Voters need accurate information in order to make an informed choice," Bergman said.
The voter's guide was published by the Secretary of State, with a disclaimer that its accuracy has not been verified and that the opinions stated are those of the authors. An expired, and therefore invalid, position of the Academy apparently was used by the guide's authors to draw the erroneous conclusion regarding Proposition 37.
The Academy does not have a position on issues pertaining to labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods.
The inaccurate information has led to confusion and an inaccurate portrayal of in the media and health-care community of the Academy and its state affiliate, the California Dietetic Association.
"In addition to being untruthful, the statement attributed to the Academy may give voters a false impression of registered dietitians and the Academy. Our members are the nation's trusted and credible source of food and nutrition information," Bergman said.
As an evidence-based organization, the Academy extensively analyzes relevant scientific studies before taking a position on any issue and systematically reviews and updates its positions as needed. A new position paper that will address GMO and GE foods is expected to be published in 2013.
The full statement can be read here and the offending quotation can be viewed here.
Monday's revelation on the part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics comes after the Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle all report on the inaccuracies of the "No on 37" radio and TV ads. In fact, the "No on 37" had to pull one ad featuring a long-time PR front man for the tobacco and oil industries, misrepresenting Stanford University.
An extract from the Sacramento Bee article reads:
The ad says the measure will ban products that don't carry the required labels, but those foods could still be sold – without the labels – if the manufacturers go organic or use ingredients that are not genetically engineered.
In fact, the assertion that Proposition 37 will raise grocery prices is based on the belief that many companies will switch to costlier non-genetically engineered ingredients instead of putting the new labels on their food.
That was the conclusion of an economic study paid for by the No on Proposition 37 campaign – which is funded largely by biotech companies and major food and beverage manufacturers. The report said the typical California household would see a $350 to $400 annual increase in grocery prices if companies switched to non-genetically engineered ingredients. No independent studies have confirmed those estimates.
The assertion that the measure would "cost California taxpayers millions for more bureaucracy and red tape" exaggerates estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, which figures regulation of food labeling would cost a few hundred thousand dollars to $1 million annually.
San Jose Mercury News talks about "Arbitrary Exemptions" on certain products and says that the "No on 37" campaign is partially misleading the public.
Yes on 37 - Right to Know Campaign
Yes on 37 - Right to Know Campaign
CA Right to Know
Stacy Malkan, California Right to Know spokesperson, says, “The No on 37 Campaign knows that basic facts do not support their argument for denying consumers the right to know what’s in our food, so they are resorting to a $35 million campaign of misrepresentations, misleading statements, and outright lies.”
“Prop. 37 comes down to a question of who is more credible, the leading health and consumer advocates, faith based groups, working families and millions of everyday Californians - or the same small group of financially motivated special interests and political operatives who told us Agent Orange, DDT and cigarettes were safe?”
For more information visit
"Yes to 37" advertising video: