Supporters of a GMO labeling initiative admitted defeat this week and pledged to bring the fight back to Washington state in 2016.
Voters were rejecting the initiative by 51 percent as of Friday, with nearly 35,000 ballots yet to be counted. Initiative 522 would have required labels on food with genetically modified ingredients.
“Despite being outspent 3-to-1, we are projecting winning 49 percent of the vote,” Trudy Bialic, the co-chair for Yes on 522, said in a statement released Thursday. “We are disappointed with the results, but the polling is clear that Washingtonians support labeling and believe they have a right to know.”
The No on 522 campaign raised about $22 million dollars, largely from a handful of out-of state companies, including Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The Yes on 522 campaign raised about $8 million.
The Yes on 522 campaign said low, off-year voter turnout was also to blame for the loss. Bialic said GMO label supporters intend to return in 2016 to “challenge and defeat the out-of-state corporations standing in the way of our right to know.”
The No on 522 campaign claimed victory on election night, when it was leading with 55 percent of the vote. While the campaign’s lead has shrunk in the following days, it still remains ahead by more than 45,000 votes.
TVW produced an hour-long documentary about GMOs this summer called “Washington’s Food Fight.”