SACRAMENTO -- A television spot opposing Proposition 37, the genetically engineered food labeling initiative, was pulled briefly this week to better identify a think-tank researcher attacking the ballot issue.
The controversy came as the opponents of the ballot measure, with $35 million in contributions from the food industry and biochemical firms, expanded a week-old television advertising blitz.
Proposition 37 would require retailers and manufacturers of processed foods to label fresh produce or manufactured, packaged food that contain or likely could contain ingredients made from plants or animals whose DNA has been manipulated in a laboratory.
The first television ad featured a family farmer from the Central Valley saying the proposition would raise prices for consumers and put California agriculture at a competitive disadvantage with other states and countries.
The second No on 37 spot that began airing Tuesday featured an academic, identified on screen as “Dr. Henry I. Miller M.D., Stanford University, founding dir. FDA Office of Technology.” He is standing in an ornately vaulted campus walkway.
Miller contended that the ballot measure “makes no sense at all” because it mandates that some foods be labeled while others are exempted by the proposed law. “It just gives an indication of the arbitrary and completely illogical nature of this ill conceived proposition,” Miller says.
Lawyers for the Proposition 37 campaign complained to Stanford’s general counsel, noting that the Stanford ID on the screen appeared to violate the university’s policy against use of the Stanford name by consultants.
What’s more, Miller is not a Stanford professor but, rather, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank housed on the Stanford campus, the letter said.
Stanford agreed. The university, spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said, “doesn’t take any positions on candidates or ballot measures, and we do not allow political filming on campus.” The filmmakers also are removing “the campus from the background of the video,” she said.
The ad was taken down and is being edited to identify Miller as a “fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University,” said No on 37 spokeswoman Kathy Fairbanks. It is expected to go back on the air Thursday.
“Nothing is changing in the content or what he’s saying, Fairbanks stressed.
Stanford’s request to edit the Miller video “is proof positive of the lack of credibility and lack of integrity of the No on 37 campaign,” said Yes on 37 spokeswoman Stacy Malkan.