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Food-Labeling Supporters Say Fight Is Moving to Statehouses

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Oregon News page.

The battle to label genetically engineered foods won't be stalled by the defeat of Washington Initiative 522, but the arena is shifting to legislatures across the country, proponents said Wednesday.

More than 20 states are expected to consider legislation in 2014 to require labeling, and some of those bills are likely to pass, said Scott Faber, executive director of the national group Just Label It!

"Regardless of the outcome in Washington, the long-term trend is consumers demanding to know more about what's in their food, how food was made and where food was made - and GE labeling is part and parcel of that," he said.

The Yes on I -522 campaign had held out hope that new results from King County would change the outcome, but as of Wednesday the measure trailed 46 to 54 percent statewide.

The initiative would have made Washington the first state to require labels on genetically engineered produce, meat from genetically engineered animals and foods made with genetically engineered ingredients. A similar measure failed in California last year, and backers had hoped a win in Washington would spur other states to follow suit.

But as in California, the "Yes" campaign was heavily outspent. Opponents, including Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Nestle and other food companies and agribusinesses, raised a record-setting $22 million - compared with 8 million donated by labeling supporters.

"When you're outspent 3-to-1 - or 5-to-1 as we were in California - you cannot win the media war," said Rebecca Spector, West Coast director of the Center for Food Safety, and a member of the I-522 steering committee.    
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