GMO labeling measure appears to have lost, though supporters not ready to throw in towel
It appears Oregon voters narrowly rejected Measure 92, the state initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods, though supporters narrowed the gap as late votes were counted Wednesday and are clinging to hopes they can still
overcome a 10,000-vote deficit.
As of Thursday morning, the Secretary of State's Elections Division reported 712,508 votes in favor of the initiative and 722,278 opposed.
Late votes, including many from Multnomah County, closed what had been a 2 percentage point gap down to less than 1 percentage point.
Measure 92 would require labels on many raw and packaged foods indicating if any ingredients contain genetically engineered or modified organisms, also known as GMOs.
Opponents, mostly agribusiness and food manufacturers, raised more than $20 million, shattering the record $12 million raised by tobacco companies to defeat a 2007 cigarette tax increase. Monsanto, which makes some of the products targeted by the measure, contributed nearly $6 million.
Supporters, including many alternative food and other businesses, raised more than $8 million. That's a huge amount for backers of an Oregon ballot measure, but they were outspent by a wide margin.
Tuesdays vote came six months after two conservative Oregon counties in Southern Oregon, Jackson and Josephine, voted to go much further and ban the growing of GMO crops within those counties.
Similar GMO labeling measures failed in California in 2012 and Washington in 2013, also after enormous spending by opponents. Oregon voters rejected a GMO labeling measure in 2002 with 70 percent of the vote.