In Oregon GMO Labeling Battle, Supporters Concede Loss But Not Defeat

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In Oregon GMO Labeling Battle, Supporters Concede Loss But Not Defeat

'Our growing movement to label genetically engineered foods is neither defeated nor discouraged,' says pro-labeling campaign.

 A sign of support by Ben & Jerry's for Oregon's Measure 92 (Photo: Caelie_Frampton/flickr/cc)

Advocates of an Oregon measure that would have required genetically modified foods to be labeled conceded loss but not defeat on Thursday.

Results from the November vote showed the Measure 92 opposition winning by just over 800 votes, a slim enough margin to trigger an automatic recount. But success from the recount appeared unlikely. The Oregonian reported Thursday:

The recount got under way Dec. 2, but as new results began coming in, it was clear the new tally would be extremely close to the first one. Results from Multnomah County, where support for the measure was strongest, were posted Friday afternoon and signaled the measure's ultimate doom.

The Yes on 92 Campaign also filed a lawsuit Monday to have the state count 4,600 ballots that campaign says were unfairly rejected "because the voters' signatures on their return identification envelops do not 'match' their signature on file for those voters," the suit charged. But that legal effort failed on Tuesday when Multnomah County Judge Henry Kantor denied the campaign's request to stop certification of the recount.

A statement from the Yes on 92 Campaign announcing it was ending its efforts reads, in part:

Given the razor-thin margin in this race, and the failure to count every valid ballot, we believe that Oregonians will never know for sure what the true outcome of this race was. That said, we intend to abide by the judge’s decision and will not pursue any further legal action. We do hope that going forward the state of Oregon will correct this flaw in our vote-by-mail system so that in future elections thousands of Oregonians will not continue to be stripped of their right to vote.

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety, which was a lead author of the measure, stated, "This loss is not a defeat. Monsanto and the corporations who opposed this Measure had to spend $20 million dollars in deceptive, misleading advertising and still only won by the slimmest of margins. How long do they intend to keep up this absurd spending? Because the food movement isn’t going anywhere," he stated.

"All eyes now turn to Washington, D.C.," Kimbrell added, where legislation introduced earlier this year by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and dubbed by critics the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, threatens to prevent state-level GMO labeling efforts. That legislation sparked a protest in Washington, D.C this week.

Despite that legislative effort and the Oregon ballot failure, the GMO labeling movement remains hopeful.

The Yes on 92 Campaign states: "Our growing movement to label genetically engineered foods is neither defeated nor discouraged."

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