Originally published January 12 2015
Monsanto playing dirty in elections
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) Proponents of a measure to require labeling of GMO foods in Oregon were forced to concede defeat -- at least for now -- after a hand recount of the ballots failed to change the outcome of a campaign marred by dirty tricks and outspending on the part of Monsanto and other agribusiness interests.
Voting took place on November 4, with those in support of Measure 92 losing by only 812 votes -- less than 0.05 percent of more than 1.5 million cast. Under Oregon law, a margin of less than 0.2 percent triggers an automatic hand recount, which began on December 9 but failed to alter the outcome.
The campaign was the most expensive in Oregon's history, and one in which the opposition (funded by Monsanto, DuPont and others) spent more than twice the amount of money proponents had at their disposal. The total spent by those against the measure reached almost $21 million -- those in favor of labeling were only able to raise a little more than $8 million.
"No on 92 Coalition" tactics not only involved the spending of massive amounts of money to launch a full-blown disinformation campaign but also included an attempt to bring in out-of-state election observers -- a violation of Oregon law.
Both campaigns have the right to place an official observer at each counting table, but the law states that these must be registered Oregon voters. The anti-labeling campaign was apparently aware of the fact that only Oregonian "electors" could participate in observing the recount but still attempted to officially register a number of out-of-state observers, according to StatesmanJournal.com.
When the pro-labeling campaign first learned of the opposition's attempts to register out-of-staters, they alerted state election officials. Election Division Director Jim William' responded by informing the campaigns of the facts regarding the statutes -- a week before the recount began.
Spokesman for the Secretary of State's office Tony Green said:
The No campaign learned of this within a day or two. They had the week prior to the recount with knowledge of it. We then put it in writing to the county clerks on Monday in case there was any uncertainty over the issue.
Apparently, that didn't deter the No campaign. At least one out-of-state observer attempted to officially register, despite the Election Division's statement the week before. A John Hewitt of Virginia tried to participate as an official observer in Marion County.
John Hewitt also happens to be the name of the director of state affairs for the Grocery Manufacturer's Association -- a GMO labeling opponent -- but it's unclear whether it is the same person.
There were also complaints that No campaign observers were "badgering" election workers while they counted votes.
The recount was crucial due to the narrow margin, and the Yes campaign had hoped for the inclusion of 4,600 rejected ballots in the recount, which they believed could have affected the outcome.
In the week before the recount, the Yes campaign filed and lost a lawsuit seeking to validate the extra ballots, which had been rejected over "signature issues."
By the final count, the overall results had changed little -- around 200 votes were added into the total, ultimately giving the Yes campaign a net shift of only 11 votes in its favor.
Measure 92 was finally defeated.
The takeaway from this is further evidence that the GMO industry is willing to fight dirty and spend big money to further its agenda.
It's easy to believe that Measure 92 might have passed if the Yes campaign had been able to raise enough money. It also stands to reason, however, that the opposition would have responded by simply raising the stakes. After all, the GMO industry has some very deep pockets.
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