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Genetically engineered food labeling movement vows to fight on

November 07, 2012|By Marc Lifsher
  • Farmer in Pilot Grove, Mo., displays genetically engineered soybeans.
Farmer in Pilot Grove, Mo., displays genetically engineered soybeans. (Dan Gill/Associated Press )

SACRAMENTO -- Supporters of Proposition 37, the genetically engineered food labeling initiative, are calling their defeat at the polls a surmountable setback.

They're vowing to take the fight for consumers' right to know what's in their food to an initiative campaign in Washington state next year and Oregon the year after that. Proponents, a coalition of organic farmers, retailers and consumer groups, also plan to try again to pass legislation in Vermont and Connecticut and pressure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a labeling regulation.

The ballot measure won 4.2 million votes, but they amounted to just 46.9% of the vote. The No side's tally was 53.1%. The initiative won most of the coastal counties, including Los Angeles County, but lost big in the Central Valley and other rural parts of California.

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"It was a narrow loss for Proposition 37 but a huge win for the movement for transparency and fairness in our food system," said campaign spokeswoman Stacy Malkan.

Proposition 37's opponents, led by big biotech companies, including Monsanto, and grocery manufacturers, counter that it would be a bad idea to continue the labeling effort.

“Proposition 37 was rejected by the California voters because it was not based on science or facts, but rather fear," said Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America.  "Such poor public policy should not be replicated at any level of government.”

VIDEO: L.A. voters discuss 2012 election

Morgan Liscinsky of the FDA said her agency had no comment on the defeat of Proposition 37 or its supporters' new plans.

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