At the end of Election Day, the results were too close to call, but now things seem official. Oregon voters narrowly rejected a bill requiring companies to label genetically modified foods.
The final tally was about 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent—a small margin, but enough to defeat the proposition. According to Oregon Live, spending by both sides set records for an Oregon ballot measure campaign. Those in favor raised more than $8 million, the most ever in the state for a pro side. Opponents, on the other hand, spent a hefty $20 million to strike down what was officially known as Measure 92.
Colorado, a state with a similar proposition in this year’s election, had a far more lopsided response: 69 percent of voters were against that state’s Proposition 105.
Colorado and Oregon were the only two states with GMO labeling bills on the ballot this election season, but both California and Washington have rejected similar proposals in the previous two years. And this wasn’t Oregon’s first tango with genetic modification: The state voted against labeling in 2002, when only 30 percent of the voters supported the cause.
The change in voter sentiment over the past decade and the increasing number of states taking up the issue show that GMO labeling is a growing concern for many Americans. Last spring, Vermont passed a law requiring GMO labeling to take effect in 2016, though that law is currently being challenged in court.
In the end, Oregon’s close vote will probably do more to galvanize both sides of the debate rather than settle it.