SEATTLE — Voters in Washington state have rejected a ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.
The campaign over Initiative 522 drew millions of dollars from out of state and was one of the costliest initiative fights in state history.
The measure was failing 46 percent to 54 percent after more ballots were counted Wednesday evening, with the "yes" side trailing by almost 100,000 votes.
Had voters approved I-522, Washington would've been the first state to put in place labeling requirements for genetically modified foods. The opposition raised $22 million to defeat the measure.
Money came from Monsanto Co., DuPont Pioneer and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which collected millions in donations from the nation's top food companies, including Nestle SA, General Mills Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. Many of those companies mounted a $46 million defense to defeat a similar food-labeling measure in California last year.
Supporters of I-522 have raised about $7.9 million, backed by Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, natural food companies and consumer groups.
Only about 6 percent of the approximately $30 million raised by both camps came from within Washington state, according to campaign finance reports.
Most GMO crops such as field corn and soybean are used for animal feed or as ingredients in processed foods including breakfast cereal, potato chips, baked goods and sodas.
Supporters say consumers have the right to know what's in the food they buy, while opponents say the measure would lead to higher food costs.