With election day just around the corner and two major GMO labeling initiatives in Colorado and Oregon heating up, Big Ag and Food companies have poured more than $25 million into campaigns aimed at defeating the bills.
Outspending the pro-GMO labeling camp by 22-1 in Colorado and 2-1 in Oregon, companies including Monsanto and DuPont along with the Grocery Manufacturers Association are pouring in funding for television and radio ads, direct mail campaigns and other measures to convince voters that labeling GMOs would be costly, confusing and unnecessary.
Monsanto has spent nearly $5 million in Colorado. “It is like David vs Goliath,” Larry Cooper, director of Colorado’s Right to Know campaign told Alternet. “The bottom line is that we really don’t know what is in our food. We are shopping blindly.”
In an email to Alternet, a Monsanto spokesperson said: “We oppose state-by-state mandatory labeling laws like Measure 92 in Oregon and Proposition 105 in Colorado,” adding, “The reason we don’t support them is simple. They don’t provide any safety or nutrition information and these measures will hurt, not help, consumers, taxpayers and businesses.”
In Oregon, where the spending is less uneven than Colorado, outspoken pro-GMO labeling brand Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap has contributed $1 million to support Measure 92. The Oregon Right to Know campaign said “the pro-labeling side hoped to counter the financial advantage by grassroots organizing,” reports Alternet. The campaign is beginning door-to-door canvassing in hopes to reach voters who were swayed away from a GMO labeling bill more than decade ago when the biotech industry convinced voters it would be an expensive bill for the state’s farmers and customers.
Still, the pro-labeling camp is hopeful – even though similar measures in Washington and California failed in 2012, as the campaigns were outspent by the anti-labeling camp that confused and frightened voters away from voting “yes.”
One advantage Oregon and Colorado have now that California and Washington did not, is the recent support from the Consumers Union and a report by the organization that found labeling GMOs would only cost consumers, on average, about $2.30 per person per year—a figure drastically lower than the hundreds and even thousands the anti-labeling camp says it will cost.
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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Image: Tobi Nielsen