Interviews: Getting the facts on Proposition 37

Three days ago, I announced that I would be interviewing the proponents and opponents of California Proposition 37, which if passed would require labels on foods made from genetically engineered crops. There has been a lot of debate about this issue, for as long as genetically engineered crops have been around.

I participated in a chat last week that Mercury News put on, which had both Stacy Malkan and Kathy Fairbanks answering questions and debating each other, and it was pretty hectic, disjointed, and somewhat uncivil. It didn’t answer any of the questions that I had about the proposition – so I was inspired to contact the two campaigns to do an interview for the Biofortified Blog. Stacy Malkan agreed to represent the Yes on 37 campaign, and Kathy Fairbanks agreed to represent the No on 37 campaign. I’m happy to say that the interviews, recorded on Monday and Tuesday, have now been [minimally] edited and are now up for you all to enjoy.

Initially planned as two 15-20 minute interviews, they ended up taking half an hour each. The reason for that is that I had some questions that I wanted to have answered, and I persisted on them rather than accept memorized campaign statements. This is something that journalists need to do more often, because otherwise you’re being more of a stenographer. It is much harder to do, but the result is much more pleasing and everyone learns more. I didn’t get to every question I and our readers had. Some were on the tip of my tongue, but I had to set them aside and move on as the conversations shifted topics. But there are some good things in there for either side to consider, and one doozy of a response if you can find it.

Support for the proposition was initially high at 67%, while opposition was low at 20%. At the time that these interviews were conducted, support had dropped and opposition had risen to a statistical tie at 44% and 42% respectively. The latest poll now pegs support at 39% and opposition at a hair above 50% – a dramatic change. Whatever the final result, it is sure to bring more widespread debate. I touch on this issue in my conclusion. Not every issue was addressed, and there is still more that can be learned about it – indeed there’s a good discussion going on in the previous post about it.

There are several different ways you can listen to the interviews. First, I have uploaded it to YouTube in its entirety, so you can stream that directly to your ears. Or if you prefer to download it as one mp3, you can do that as well. you can also listen to my introduction, each interview, and my conclusion separately. If for instance you want to get to what one side said first, you can do that, see the links below. Without any further ado, on to the interviews!

Full-length show (66 MB): Download mp3
Introduction (2 MB): Download mp3
Yes on 37 Stacy Malkan Interview (30 MB): Download mp3
No on 37 Kathy Fairbanks Interview (30 MB): Download mp3
Conclusion (4 MB): Download mp3

License information:  Anyone may download and play these interviews for individuals or groups, provided that it is for a nonprofit purpose. Radio stations may broadcast these interviews in whole or in part, with proper attribution. Biology Fortified, Inc. retains the copyright on these interviews and reserves all other rights for their reproduction, editing, and playback. If you wish to use these interviews for a purpose not outlined above, please contact us – we will probably say yes!

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:
Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.