In Sacramento, voters turned down Proposition 37, which would have required labels on food made with genetically engineered ingredients.
The passage of this proposition would have been the first of its kind in U.S. history, but the initiative lost by six percentage points.
Between 70 and 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. are made with genetically engineered ingredients, which are modified to increase their resistance to pests and weeds.
Proponents of Proposition 37 say consumers have a right to know what foods have been genetically altered because of potential long-term health effects like allergies and organ damage, which they say are evident in industry research.
The opposition for the measure, backed by $45 million from major agribusiness and chemical companies, said that it would stigmatize certain foods proven to be safe.
“We said from the beginning that the more voters learned about Prop. 37, the less they would like it,” Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for the opposition, told the San Francisco Gate. “We didn’t think they would like the lawsuits, more bureaucracy, higher costs, loopholes and exemptions. It looks like they don’t.”
Stacy Melken, a Proposition 37 spokesperson, said she believes her side will eventually win the debate.
“We showed that there is a food movement in the United States, and it is strong, vibrant and too powerful to stop,” Melken told the San Francisco Gate. “We always knew we were the underdogs.”