SACRAMENTO -- Proposition 37, the genetically engineered food labeling initiative, was trailing badly late on election day.
With just over a fifth of the statewide votes counted, the measure was losing with 42.7% yes to 57.3% no.
It was polling strongly ahead five weeks ago but fell steadily in the polls under a barrage of negative campaign television advertisements funded by a food and biotech industry war chest of more than $44 million.
The initiative, backed by the organic food industry, consumer groups and health-conscious shoppers, would have required that fresh produce and packaged foods be labeled if they contain or might contain ingredients that had been genetically altered in a laboratory.
Supporters of the measure argued that consumers have a right to know what's in their food and that information should be made available on labels. About 60 countries around the world already require such labels, proponents stressed.