A citizen initiative review narrowly passed a "no" recommendation on a November ballot measure that calls for the labeling of genetically modified foods.
The Oregon Citizen Initiative Review voted 11-9 to oppose Measure 92, which would require food manufacturers and retailers to label foods that contain GMOs.
The 11 members opposed to the initiative said the cost of complying with the measure would increase food costs and that existing organic and non-GMO food labels already give consumers reliable information about genetically modified food. They also cited the measure's failure to include meat and dairy products from animals fed by genetically modified feed as a reason for their "no" vote.
Members who supported the initiative said that the measure would give Oregonians more control and transparency when buying food, and argued that costs would not significantly increase as United States food producers already have to label GMO foods in 64 countries.
No on 92 spokesman Pat McCormick believes the majority of voters will agree with the panel's decision.
"It's an important validation of the fact that when people get information about the measure they don't like what they see," McCormick says.
Yes on 92 spokesman Sandeep Kaushik says the campaign always knew that the measure would be hotly contested, and the close decision by the panel reaffirms that.
"We have to work harder to make sure we provide voters with information they need to distinguish fact from falsehood," Kaushik says.
Kaushik says many of the arguments against the measure, such as the increased food costs, are based on outdated information.
"As we go forward our challenge is to help Oregonians understand what is on the measure and that the labels do not reveal any useful information," McCormick says.
A similar ballot measure to label GMOs was defeated in Oregon in 2002.