After razor thin margins last night left it up in the air, the most expensive measure in Oregon's history has failed.
The Oregonian's number crunchers have called Measure 92 dead, and the various campaigns appear to have concurred. The initiative would have required food producers to label products that contain GMOs, some 70 percent of products in your local grocery store.
In fact, Oregon's result could be closer than the Washington and California measures. As I write this, the Secretary of State shows the measure losing by just 16,330 votes.
That might seem too close to call, particularly since Measure 92's boosters were relying on late vote totals. But the O has quoted supporters who apparently acknowledge defeat (our calls haven't yet been returned), and a group with the anodyne name Coalition for Safe Affordable Food just sent out a press release hailing the result. Oh, and here's a newly sent statement from the No on 92 Coalition's Colin Cochran. It appears to be a draft, because this is the first sentence.
"Oregon voters have [decisively] rejected Ballot Measure 92, which would have mandated a food labeling system in Oregon that doesn’t exist in any other state, and would have required misleading labels on some foods produced with genetic engineering."
Cochran would do well to take that "decisively" out of brackets, and out of the thing altogether. Same with a quote from another campaign flack saying voters had "soundly rejected" the measure. This was no mandate.
Update, 11:40 am: I spoke with Cochran, the No on 92, spokesman. He acknowledged his statement's wording was too strong, and said "someone in our campaign pulled the trigger a little bit early." A new statement should be coming out shortly.
I also asked Cochran about the spare, overtly corporate (see photo in our Live Blog from last night) "media availability" room the campaign set up last night, rather than a proper campaign party where supporters might commingle over booze. He wouldn't talk to me about it.
Beyond millions and millions of dollars—from both sides, though the "No" campaigners had a heavy financial edge thanks to the Monsantos and Coca-Colas of the world—the battle over Measure 92 rested on a couple arguments. Proponents contended people deserve, and want, to know that their food contains GMOs, and that dozens of European nations already mandate similar labels with no difficulty. The measure's opponents argued labeling would be expensive, potentially hurting farmers and increasing food costs.