U.S. voters send mixed messages on GMO and soda tax measures

PlaceSetting_wVoteButton_blogTuesday’s midterm elections featured a host of food and agriculture issues for some states and involved matters including GMO labeling and farming as well as soda-based taxes. Based on a recent article, and other local news reports, below is a rundown of how the results shook out and what it could mean for food policy and your dinner plate moving forward.

Colorado Proposition 105:
According to the article, this statewide ballot initiative pushed for the labeling of genetically modified foods that would require most GM foods to bear a label reading, “produced with genetic engineering.” Colorado voters rejected Prop 105, with nearly 70% of voters voting no. Therefore, labeling of GMO foods will not be required for food producers.

Oregon Measure 92:
Similar to Colorado’s Proposition 105, this measure would require the labeling of most GMO foods sold in the state, beginning January 2016. Retailers and manufacturers could be sued as a result of knowingly violating the law. Local news is reporting that the Secretary of State’s office showed the measure failing by about 51% to 49%.  However, others are saying the race is too close to call and while 100% of precincts are reporting, final results may not be known until later in the week.

Berkeley Measure D:
Berkeley became the first U.S. city to pass a soda tax that will impose a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the distribution of most sugar-sweetened beverages. According to a local report, this will raise an estimated $1 million to $2 million annually for the city’s general fund and has hopes of combating diabetes and other ailments. In the past five years, 30 cities and states have rejected similar taxes. “With a simple majority required for passage, Measure D surged to victory with 75% of the vote,” according to the report.

San Francisco Measure E:
Across the bay however, San Francisco’s Measure E failed to pass that would have imposed a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on most sweetened beverages. According to the same local report, unlike Berkeley’s Measure D, San Francisco’s Measure E is a special tax, earmarked for nutrition, physical activity and health programs, and so it needed a two-thirds majority of votes to pass.

Maui County, Hawaii, GMO Moratorium Bill:
Considered to be one of the strongest anti-GMO bills ever, local news is reporting voters appear to have approved an initiative that bans GMO cultivation in Maui County. According to another article, “the measure will impose a temporary moratorium on genetically engineered crops until the county analyzes their impact on the county’s public health and environment. The article goes on to say, the bill’s passage could bring to a standstill a majority of the farming being done by large farmers in the state.

Comments are closed.