Washington state voters on Tuesday rejected an initiative that would have required foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled, reports USA Today’s Elizabeth Weise.
The vote was 54.8% opposed to labeling and 45.2% in favor of it.
Had it passed, Initiative 522 would have made the state the first in the nation to require such labeling.
The initiative was the most expensive in state history, though it was largely fought by out-of-state interests.
The No on 522 campaign set a record for fundraising, bringing in $22 million in donations according to The Seattle Times. Just $550 came from Washington residents, according to the newspaper. The top five contributors were the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience.
The largest donor to the pro-labeling campaign were California-based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. However the initiative garnered almost 30% of its funding from individuals in Washington state, the Times reported.
Food industry ads claimed that the initiative would raise food prices. Labels would mislead consumers into thinking that products that contain genetically engineered ingredients are “somehow different, unsafe or unhealthy,” said Brian Kennedy of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a food industry group based in Washington, D.C.