Colorado vs. Oregon

by Keith Nunes
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KANSAS CITY — There are lessons to be learned from the election results on Nov. 4, most notably how voters in Colorado perceived efforts to mandate the labeling of bioengineered ingredients in food and beverage products vs. those in Oregon. This is important, because the vote in Colorado was not close while the effort in Oregon was rejected by a narrow margin.

In Colorado, proposition 105 was soundly defeated. Sixty-five per cent of the voters in the state voted against the ballot initiative. Yet in Oregon Measure 92 was rejected by a slim margin of 722,637 votes against and 712,835 in favor.

Most of the post-election coverage has focused on spending leading up to Nov. 4. Opponents of both ballot measures outspent proponents by a wide margin, but there was clearly another factor in play in Oregon that made the vote so close.

One aspect that may have played a role is urban and suburban voters vs. rural voters. For example, the Oregonian newspaper said Measure 92 was especially unpopular in eastern and central Oregon, both regions of the state where agriculture is more prevalent. Yet in Colorado only three counties voted in favor of Proposition 105. The rest of the state soundly rejected the proposal.

It is important to learn what messages resonated with voters in Colorado and Oregon, because this issue is not going to go away. In 2014, there have been dozens of municipal, county and state initiatives introduced to regulate the labeling of products featuring bioengineered ingredients or regulate the growing and use of such ingredients.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is supporting and investing heavily in a national strategy, but until such an effort becomes a reality it will be critical to understand what motivated Colorado voters to overwhelmingly reject Proposition 105.

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