Whose verdict anyway!

Published: Saturday 30 November 2002

MEASURE 27 ON GM FOOD LABELLING . Oregon . November 2002

The big food producers and biotechnology researchers are celebrating. Their strategy has paid off.

The voters of US's Oregon state rejected a ballot initiative that would have required labels on food containing genetically modified (GM) material.

More than 73 per cent of the voters rejected the Measure 27 that makes such marking mandatory. Only 27 per cent voted in favour of the move. Had Measure 27 found a convincing mandate, it would have produced the first such labeling law in the country.

Campaign finance reports showed the food industry and other opponents raised more than US $5 million to combat the initiative. Much of the money went to advertisements warning of the higher costs it would bring to restaurants, grocery stores and school cafeterias. While GM advocates said that Measure 27's labels would be expensive and misleading, GM critics contented such a tag was crucial to avert the threat posed by GM food to environment and human health. Initiative supporters vowed to press the labelling issue, despite the setback. "I don't consider it a loss. We may lose this election, but this is just the beginning of a movement here in Oregon and across the nation," said Donna Harris, a anti-GM campaigner.

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