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Pro-GMO labeling groups are mulling where to push ballot initiatives in 2016, and California and Oregon are on top of the list. Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, told Politico’s Morning Agriculture that groups are “in the process” of picking a state and wrangling donors. While both California and Oregon are promising, the final decision may come down to cost. Waging another GMO labeling fight in California will likely cost about $20 million, Murphy said, whereas Oregon is a much less expensive market.
A 2016 GMO-labeling ballot initiative in either state would be the second time residents consider the issue. A 2014 initiative in Oregon failed by just 837 votes in a recount following a $20.8 million campaign from the food and biotech industries. Supporters of the measure spent $8.2 million. A similar measure in California in 2012 failed by just 3 percent of the vote. $46 million was spent by the opposition, while proponents spent $9.2 million.
By the time voters get to the ballot box in 2016, there may already be one state with GMO labeling in effect, that is if a court doesn’t block it first. Vermont’s law is scheduled to go into effect in July, but industry is waging a two-pronged legal challenge. A panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals will on Oct. 8 hear arguments on the food industry’s request for an injunction on the law. The original suit in a federal court in Burlington, Vt., is still chugging along, though that won’t be ready for trial until late April, according to filings in the suit.
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