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Oregon Rejects GE Labeling Initiative After Heavy Advertising from Biotech Industry
(from November 8, 2002)

On November 5, Oregon voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have required labels on food containing genetically engineered material, handing a victory to biotech companies like Monsanto and others who spent millions on a campaign to convince voters to vote against the measure. Early returns showed more than 73 percent of voters rejecting Measure 27 compared with 27 percent in favor.

Campaign finance reports showed the food industry and other opponents raised more than $5 million to combat the initiative. Much of the money went to advertisements warning of the higher costs it would bring to restaurants, grocery stores, and school cafeterias.

Genetic modification is used in some 70 percent of processed food in the United States as well as animal feeds. Although biotech advocates claim genetic modification decreases pesticide use, the majority of GE crops are altered to facilitate pesticide use. According to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association, crops genetically engineered to be herbicide-resistant account for almost 80% of all GE crops planted in 2000. The "benefits" of these herbicide-resistant crops are that farmers can spray as much of a particular herbicide on their crops as they want-killing the weeds without damaging their crop.

Scientists estimate that herbicide-resistant crops planted around the globe will triple the amount of toxic broad-spectrum herbicides used in agriculture. These broad-spectrum herbicides are designed to literally kill everything green. The leaders in biotechnology are the same giant chemical companies-Monsanto, DuPont, Aventis, and Syngenta (the merger between Novartis and Astra-Zeneca)-that sell toxic pesticides. The same companies that create the herbicide resistant GE plants are also selling the herbicides. The farmers are then paying for more herbicide treatment from the same companies that sold them the herbicide resistant GE seeds.