While some publications are reporting the death of Oregon’s Measure 92, an initiative that would require the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the truth is that the race is still too close to call.
Vigilant reporting by The Oregonian reveals that, with 88 percent of the votes counted, the measure is trailing 49 to 51 percent; however, most of the votes yet to be counted are in Multnomah County, a region where 62 percent of the population favors GMO labeling.
Urban counties such as Multnomah, Lane, Benton and Jackson showed the most support for GMO labeling, while voters in rural areas were more opposed.
Announcing the measure’s defeat before counting all the votes, especially in a race this close, is far too reminiscent of what happened in 2012 with California’s Prop 37. Prop 37 was announced as being defeated by 6 percentage points, 53 to 47 percent, when more than 3 million votes were still left uncounted.
The alleged defeat seemed suspicious, especially with earlier polls showing an overwhelming support for the initiative, including 9 out 10 Californians supporting GMO labeling. Despite its defeat, the measure drew mass awareness that helped open the door for other states like Oregon to pass similar measures.
The passing of Measure 92 would make Oregon the first state to enact a voter-approved GMO-labeling law
The campaign surrounding Oregon’s Measure 92 broke state records, as it was the most costly initiative on the ballot, blowing previous proposals out of the water in terms of spending. More than $20 million was funneled into the battle over GMO labeling, with the biotech industry dumping around $12 million into Oregon’s initiative.
GMO-labeling proponents donated an estimated $8 million to the Yes on 92 campaign, arguing that the public has a right to know whether or not their food contains genetically modified ingredients.
While the Vermont legislature passed a GMO-labeling law last spring (which they are now being sued for), Oregon would be the first state to enact a similar law, except this one would be voter-approved.
Measure 92, which doesn’t apply to alcohol or prepared restaurant food, if passed, would go into effect beginning January 2016. It would also require manufacturers of packaged food produced either entirely or partially with GMOs to be labeled “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering,” according to the Oregonian.
Regardless of Oregon’s ballot results, this close race is yet again another reminder of the war that’s been waged by the public regarding the Right to Known campaign. Nearly 90 bills in 29 states have been proposed to address GMO labeling, a stark reminder for the biotech industry that they’re losing.
Big Food has spent more then $100 million to fight GMO-labeling laws in Oregon, California and Washington combined. Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, DuPont and Monsanto are some of the biggest contributors; however, their efforts are wasted in that even their opposition has helped draw awareness to the issue.
Votes for Colorado’s GMO-labeling measure not nearly as close as Oregon’s
Unfortunately, votes for Colorado’s GMO-labeling initiative, Prop 105, weren’t as close. The Denver Post reports that 68 percent of voters opposed the measure; however, at least 35 percent of votes are still uncounted.
Big Food’s attempt to dismantle GMO-labeling campaigns have included convincing consumers that labeling would create new costs, running up their grocery bills, as well red tape for farmers, food manufacturers and grocery stores.
Similar deceitful tactics were used to fight California’s Prop 37, including a campaign mailer that read, “The US Food and Drug Administration says a labeling policy like Prop 37 would be ‘inherently misleading,'” topping it off with an official-looking FDA seal.
The FDA later denied that the agency made such statements.