OREGON’S MEASURE 92: A LESSON FOR THE GMO LABELING MOVEMENT

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginiaOregon’s Measure 92 ended yesterday in a razor close election outcome. Measure 92 would have required labeling on packaging, bins and shipping container containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Last night, the leading proponent for the passage of Measure 92, the “Oregon Right To Know” movement, posted on its website that it “is ending its efforts today. While Measure 92 will not emerge victorious in this election, our growing movement to label genetically engineered foods is neither defeated nor discouraged.”

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The Measure is one of the most costly campaigns in Oregon history with over $29 million being spent by both sides. The opponents to GMO labeling, led by national food and chemical manufacturers like Monsanto and Dupont (as well as the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association) raised about $21 million to defeat Measure 92 while the Oregon Right To Know movement raised approximately $9 million.

On Election Day, Measure 92 was down by a thin margin of 812 votes which prompted a state wide hand recount.  The recount was not without its share of controversy when, according to the Oregon Stateman Journal, opponents of Measure 92 brought in persons from out-of state to be election observers in violation of Oregon law.

Oregon citizens may never really know the outcome of the vote because 4,600 ballots were not permitted to be counted. An Oregon judge rejected Oregon’s Right To Know’s efforts to get a court to order the counting of those votes.  That refusal essentially sealed the defeat of Measure 92. See http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/12/measure_92_recount_all_but_2_o.html.

That big outside manufacturing and chemical interests will invest so much to defeat state GMO labeling referendums speaks volumes about the vested interests against the public’s right to know what is in our food.  Democracy is the fabric of our society and the citizens of Oregon have spoken. However, there are those who are working at the federal government level to take away the rights of state citizens to decide for themselves whether or not to know what they are eating.

Perhaps a bigger lesson about democracy is yet still to come.

Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate / foodadvocate@ellwoodthompsons.com

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