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Battle over GMO labeling sets records

2007 mark for contributions is exceeded; spending likely to follow suit.


It’s official: Measure 92 supporters and opponents have raised a record amount — and are about to spend a record — in their battle over whether Oregon should require labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms.

As of Saturday, according to reports filed with the Oregon Elections Division, a total of $16.7 million has been raised and $13.4 million spent so far.

The record for an Oregon ballot measure campaign was set in 2007, when $15 million was spent — $12 million of it by major tobacco companies — on a proposed increase in cigarette taxes tied to an expansion of children’s health care. Voters rejected the measure; lawmakers funded the expansion by other means two years later.

A similar GMO measure last year in Washington state, where voters defeated it, also set a record $22 million in spending there. A similar measure failed in 2012 in California, where $46 million was spent.

In Oregon, supporters reported raising and spending $5.6 million, $1 million of which went toward signature-gathering efforts to qualify Measure 92 for the Nov. 4 ballot.

They reported only $26,362 cash on hand.

Opponents reported raising $11.1 million and spending $7.8 million. They reported $3.3 million cash on hand.

Virtually all of the largest contributors on both sides are from outside Oregon.

For supporters, they are consumer groups and organic processors.

For opponents, they are food manufacturers and biotechnology groups.

Here’s a breakdown as of Oct. 17, counting noncash contributions, usually materials and services:

Yes on 92: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, $1,150,000; Center for Food Safety Action Fund, $1.1 million; Mercola.com, $650,000; Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, $250,034 noncash; Organic Consumers Fund, $300,000; Food Democracy Action and Presence Marketing, $200,000 each; Ben & Jerry’s, $70,086 noncash.

No on 92: Monsanto Co., $4,085,150; PepsiCo, $1.4 million; Kraft Foods, $870,000; Land O’Lakes, $760,000; Coca-Cola, $702,000; General Mills, $695,000; Hershey Co., $320,000; Dow AgroSciences, $310,150; J.M. Smucker Co., $295,000; ConAgra and Kellogg Co., $250,000 each; Bimbo Bakeries USA, $230,000; Grocery Manufacturers Association, $164,790; Abbott Nutrition, $160,000; McCormick & Co., $130,000; Cargill, $111,000; Hormel Foods, $85,000; DuPont Pioneer, $58,500; Bumble Bee Foods $45,000; Ocean Spray Cranberries, $35,000; Michael Foods, Rich Products Corp., Shearer’s Foods, $30,000 each; Knouse Foods, $20,000; Welch’s, $15,000; Council for Biotechnology Information, $12,827; Biotechnology Information Organization, $10,150.

pwong@PamplinMedia.com

(503) 385-4899

twitter.com/capitolwong

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