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6-Regulation: Industry fights Oregon initiative on GE food

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TITLE:  Industry fights Oregon initiative on genetically modified food
SOURCE: Associated Press/The Seattle Times, by Charles E. Beggs
DATE:   Oct 25, 2002

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Industry fights Oregon initiative on genetically modified food

SALEM, Ore.  The food industry has raised more than $5 million in its 
efforts to defeat a Nov. 5 ballot measure that would make Oregon the first 
state to mandate labeling of genetically engineered food.

A second round of campaign-finance reports filed yesterday with the 
Secretary of State's Office showed donations of nearly $5.1 million and 
spending of $4.5 million against Measure 27.

The reports cover contributions and spending in the 30 days ending last 
Sunday. Backers of the initiative measure reported raising $194,000.

Donors against the measure are a who's who of the nation's big food and 
beverage companies: $161,000 from Kraft Foods, $52,000 from Campbell's 
Soup, $38,000 from Pepsi and $35,000 from the National Soft Drink 

Foes of the measure have invested heavily in television advertising, with 
the pitch that there are already enough regulations and the proposal would 
pile on mounds of expensive red tape.

Supporters argue that consumers have a right to know about genetic 

Most of the money raised to fight the measure, $3.7 million, came from 
CropLife International of Brussels, Belgium, which is composed of major 
genetic-food-engineering companies.

The largest amount chipped in by a supporter of the measure was a $36,000 
loan from Mel Bankoff, operator of Emerald Valley Kitchen, a Eugene food 

Spending against Measure 27 dwarfed outlays for or against any other 
measure on the ballot.

The insurance industry has spent more than $1 million fighting Measure 23, 
which would create a universal health-care plan for all Oregonians funded 
by an income-tax increase and a payroll tax on employers.

Major donations to the opposition group, the Coalition Against Unhealthy 
Taxes, include $50,000 each from State Farm Insurance and Premera Blue 

Backers of that initiative reported raising $37,000.

Supporters of a measure to outlaw paying initiative-petition circulators by 
the signature have raised $885,000, largely from organized labor.

The National Education Association (NEA) donated $100,000 in the most 
recent reporting period, and the Oregon Public Employees Union contributed 

Aloha businessman Loren Parks, a frequent big contributor to initiative 
causes, has donated $600,000 in an effort to pass measures 21 and 22, which 
would change the way judges are elected.

A political committee working to defeat the measures, funded mostly by 
judges and lawyers, has raised $180,000 and spent $87,000.

Supporters of boosting the state's minimum wage are outspending opponents.

A largely labor-funded coalition backing Measure 25 has raised $215,000 and 
spent $179,000. The NEA and the Oregon Education Association donated a 
total of $20,000, as did Oregon Action, a Portland-based advocacy group for 
low-income people.

Save Oregon Jobs, opposing the measure, has raised $149,000 and spent 
$102,000. The biggest donation was $40,000 from the Oregon Association of 
Nurserymen, followed by $20,000 from Burger King.


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