In Oregon, Hawai'i, California and beyond, we saw organized communities stand up to corporate money this election season. And despite record-breaking industry spending, community advocates made real and important strides toward reclaiming food and farming from the "Big 6" pesticide corporations.
Voters in California and Hawai'i successfully pushed back against Monsanto & friends to create GE-free zones in Humboldt and Maui counties. And despite millions of industry dollars spent in opposition, the initiative to label genetically engineered food in Oregon is still too close to call. Change is on its way.
After a hard-fought campaign, voters in Maui county — which includes the islands of Maui, Kaho`olawe, Lana`i and Moloka`i — passed an initiative to prohibit the growth, testing or cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops until an environmental and public health study can show they're safe.
And no surprise, biotech and pesticide corporations — primarily Monsanto and Dow —led the opposition. These corporations are focused on maintaining control of prime agricultural land on the islands, where they currently test their GE seed and pesticide products.
This was the most expensive local initiative battle in history, with the opposition spending almost $8 million in the campaign against the measure. As calculated by our colleagues at Center for Food Safety, that breaks down to "$362.22 per vote earned, or $174.43 per total vote cast." In short, big money.
Monsanto, Dow and friends will very likely file a lawsuit challenging this vote. They've done this in the past when elections didn't go their way. But the will of the people is clear: the community doesn't want GE crops, and the hazardous pesticides that accompany them, near their homes and schools.
Down to the wire in Oregon
It's no surprise that pesticide and biotech corporations also funneled millions into Oregon, in this case to stop the statewide GE labeling initiative. We’ve seen similar spending to block right-to-know measures in other states, including California and Washington. And industry spent significant monies to defeat the labeling effort on the ballot in Colorado (which was unfortunately voted down).
In Oregon, Monsanto contributed more than $4 million to defeat Measure 92. And DuPont gave $4.5 million, with much of that cash infusion coming at the end of the campaign to fund a misleading PR blitz.
But despite the "Yes" campaign being outspent 2-to-1 by Big Food and pesticide industry interests, as of this writing the vote is too close to call. Ballots are still being counted in Oregon, and the difference between Measure 92 passing or failing is down to less than one half of one percent — 5,200 votes.
This election it was clear: communities are standing up to Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and the rest of the Big 6. For too long, these biotech and pesticide corporations have held our food system captive, pushing their GE crops and keeping us trapped on the pesticide treadmill. But people are ready for change — and they're making it happen.
Oregon needs your help!» The final vote is still being tallied in Oregon, and 13,000 contested ballots could mean the difference between Measure 92 passing or not. Your donation today will ensure the campaign has the resources to help sort out those contested ballots! Thanks for supporting this important effort however you can.