GMOs see mixed bag on Election Day

Oregon and Colorado voters decide against mandatory GMO labeling while Maui bans biotech plantings.

Mandatory GMO-labeling ballot initiatives failed in Colorado and Oregon, however a ban on biotech plantings was approved in Maui.

Voters in Colorado solidly rejected the attempt, with 66% voting against and 34% in favor. Colorado's Proposition 105 would've required food companies to label packaged foods with the text "produced with genetic engineering."

In Oregon, the outcome was similar to past close votes in California and Washington. Only 51% voted against the measure in Oregon, and some tally's showed the victory of margin was just 0.6%. Oregon's Measure 92 would have required food labels to include the words "genetically engineered."

"Just like the tens of millions of voters in California in 2012 and Washington State in 2013, Oregon voters see how this proposal would have created more state bureaucracy, imposed new costs and burdens on local farmers and businesses, and increased food prices for hard-working Oregon families," said Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.  

In Maui County, Hawaii, voters narrowly approved a moratorium on biotech crop cultivation, with the vote separated by just 1,077 votes.

Greenwood said, "The science of genetic engineering led to development of the Rainbow papaya, which is credited with saving Hawaii’s papaya industry. This technology has the potential to help other plants and crops – such as orchids, citrus, strawberries, coffee and bananas – withstand pests and disease. Now, Maui County farmers will be prohibited from using those improvements."

Monsanto and Dow, which conduct field trials of genetically modified crops and also grow engineered seed for commercial purposes in Maui, said they plan to challenge the ban.

In a statement, Monsanto said it was “deeply concerned about the serious consequences of this initiative” for the community and for farming in Hawaii. Monsanto said it has more than 1,000 local employees living and working in Maui, Molokai and Oahu. “We also understand the negative impact this initiative will have on our employees, the community and on agriculture in Hawaii and beyond.”

The statement said Monsanto remains confident in the safety of its products and “will continue to listen to and talk with the members of our community as we determine if this initiative is legal and will be enforced.”

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