Monsanto, Prop 37, and the art of credible campaigning

Monsanto

There is a lot of politics, money, and science behind both sides of Prop 37. The California proposition to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food is drawing nationwide attention; if passed, it will be the first of its kind and could spark similar propositions around the country.

We’re less interested in the politics, money, or science surrounding it, but one thing that did draw our interest was the claim by Prison Planet that Monsanto used the US Food and Drug Administration logo on a quote that was fabricated. As they point out, this is against the law in one way or another – either the FDA broke the law by taking a stance on a proposition or Monsanto broke the law by publishing the logo in a way that was intended to indicate ownership of the quote by members of the FDA.

FDA Monsanto

Regardless of who broke the law, the interesting thing here is the effect. People trust authority when it comes to circumstances that they don’t understand regardless of whether they normally trust those authority figures in other situations. For example, people often say they don’t trust lawyers, but when they have complex legal questions they will call one up in most cases rather than research the question itself. They say a good mechanic is hard to find, but few will dig through owner’s manuals or engine repair books to diagnose the problem.

Many people do not trust the government, but they’ll trust government entities that have an expertise on a subject. In this case, the “quote” from the FDA is an extremely powerful statement that would hold more weight in the decision process of voters.

In political, marketing, or public relations campaigns, the credibility of sources is almost more important than the reality of the campaign itself. Prop 37 will likely be defeated on Tuesday, not because it isn’t a good idea but because the campaigners behind the opposition are generating endorsements opposing the proposition. In one case, they were forced to pull a television ad that falsely claimed Stanford University endorsed the anti-labeling view of a professor.

Is Monsanto evil or just good at playing the game?

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Written by Sal McCloskey

+Sal McCloskey is a tech blogger in Los Angeles who (sadly) falls into the stereotype associated with nerds. Yes, he's a Star Trek fan and writes about it on Uberly. His glasses are thick and his allergies are thicker. Despite all that, he's (somehow) married to a beautiful woman and has 4 kids. Find him on Twitter or Facebook,
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