Oregon recounts votes on measure to label GMO foods
PORTLAND — The final vote tally on an Oregon ballot measure that would require labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients was so close that state officials are doing a recount, a spokesman for the state said on Tuesday.
Final results show the Oregon measure losing by 812 votes out of a total of more than 1.5 million votes, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.
“State law says that if the margin is no more than one-fifth of 1 percent of the total votes cast in that election … then there shall be an automatic hand recount,” said Tony Green, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.
The recount is to take place Dec. 2-12, he said.
Oregon is one of many states where mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients has been pursued.
“Regardless of what the final outcome of this race is, this is a very encouraging sign for those of us who support labeling of genetically engineered foods,” said Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the campaign promoting the measure.
Vermont lawmakers passed a GMO labeling law earlier this year. Labeling proponents are also seeking a federal mandate for labeling GMO foods.
Labeling opponents, including major food and agriculture corporations, have sought to thwart any mandatory moves. They have filed a lawsuit to try to block implementation of the Vermont law, for instance.
Labeling proponents say GMOs carry risks for humans and the environment, and consumers should know if the foods they buy contain them. Opponents say GMOs have been proven safe and that mandatory labeling would be costly and confusing for consumers.
At nearly $30 million, the battle over Measure 92 was by far the costliest campaign in Oregon history.
“We are confident that Measure 92 has been defeated, and that will be the case even if there happens to be a recount,” Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman for the No on 92 Coalition, said last week.
Oregon conducts elections entirely by mail. Elections officials verify ballots by matching a signature on the envelope to the one on file with a voter’s registration card.
In every election, thousands of ballots end up not being counted, usually because of problems with the signature. Some voters forget to sign, or their signature evolves over time so it doesn’t match the one on file.