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Oregon GMO Labeling Measure Fails by Razor Thin Margin

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Oregon GMO Labeling Measure Fails by Razor Thin Margin

Big biotech and processed food companies spent more than $20 million to defeat Oregon's Measure 92 for mandatory labeling of genetically modified (GMO) foods sold in groceries. Yet all it bought them was a margin so razor thin that the results weren't in until the morning after the election. The issue went down to a very narrow defeat, netting less than 51 percent of the vote and  a 1.2 percent margin.

A marketing piece by Oregon Right To Know show more money being donated by Monsanto to defeat the GMO labeling measure.

Companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Kraft and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade association representing big processed food companies like Con Agra and General Mills, poured money into the anti-labeling campaign, with supporters of the measure, under the banner Oregon Right to Know, spending about $7 million. That made this the most expensive state ballot issue in Oregon history, with top donor Monsanto contributing $6.7 million.

It was the second time Oregon voters rejected GMO labeling. Last time, back in 2002 before high public awareness of GMOs, the measure failed by a margin of 70/30.

A similar measure in Colorado, proposition 105, was defeated more decisively Tuesday, with two-thirds of the voters voting against it. There the anti-labeling campaign outraised proponents 17-1. Monsanto spent $4.7 million, while the entire campaign spending of labeling supporters was around $1 million. California defeated a labeling measure in 2012 and Washington did the same in 2013, again with huge spending by Monsanto and members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

George Kimbrell, a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety who was the lead author of the Oregon measure, told the Las Vegas Sun that the labeling movement isn't about to give up.

"This is a social movement that's gaining power, as people become more aware of how their food is produced," he said. "So there's great success there regardless of the outcome of the measure.The reason we lost narrowly is because chemical companies and their allies smashed spending records. People were being inundated with their commercials on television. The bottom line is that this movement is going to continue to grow, move forward and gain in prominence."

Watch this interview with Ben & Jerry's co-founder Jerry Greenfield on Democracy Now! as Greenfield discusses the company's campaign for a successful genetically modified food labeling measure in its home state of Vermont.

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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