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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Money Battle In Oregon Food Labeling Measure Mirrors Washington

Lindsay Eyink

Oregon's Measure 92 appears to be the most expensive ballot measure campaign in the state's history.

The big-money battle is over whether to require food manufacturers and retailers to label genetically engineered foods. A similar initiative also set spending records in Washington state last year.

The group that supports the genetic engineering food labeling measure has raised more than $5 million so far. The group opposed to it has raked in about $11 million. More than two weeks remain before Election Day so those numbers will likely grow even higher.

Total spending in last year's Initiative 522 in Washington topped $22 million. It's not clear whether the Oregon measure will ultimately match that, but it appears the fundraising on Measure 92 has already exceeded the state's previous record-setting ballot measure campaign. That was a 2007 fight over a cigarette tax increase to fund children's health care. It failed.

The sources of the big money for and against Oregon's food labeling measure mirrors that of Washington's failed initiative. Food manufacturers and agri-business groups are against it. Consumer groups and organic food distributors are for it.