It’s official: Oregon’s ballot fight over labeling GMO foods is officially heading to a recount.
Despite major media outlets and the opposition saying the measure had failed after the November 4 election, sustained efforts to count each vote now show that the difference is so close that a recount must take place. Of more than 1.5 million votes cast, the ballot initiative trailed by only 809 votes (less than 0.1 percent) in the final unofficial count released Monday night.
“Despite the millions of dollars from big food and agribusiness companies that poured in to oppose Measure 92, hundreds of thousands of Oregon voters made their voices heard loud and clear: they want to know if their foods are genetically engineered,” said Michael Hansen, Ph.D., Senior Scientist for Consumers Union, who appeared in television ads for the Yes on 92 campaign. “The extreme closeness of this vote is a victory for consumers’ right to know what’s in their food.”
Industry opponents of Measure 92, including Monsanto, DuPont, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Kraft Foods, among others, far outspent supporters, making this the most expensive ballot measure in the Oregon’s history. By election day, opponents had spent $20.5 million, whereas supporters spent $8 million. Monsanto, the leading producer of genetically engineered seed in the U.S., alone spent $6 million in opposition.
Measure 92 would require packaged food to indicate if it is genetically engineered. Corn, soy, canola and beet sugar are the main genetically engineered food crops grown in the U.S. GMO labeling is required in more than 60 foreign countries, but not in the U.S. Passage of Measure 92 would make Oregon the first state in the nation to pass a GMO labeling law at the ballot box.
A recount will likely take place during the first two weeks in December.