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The biggest proponents of GMO labeling in Oregon launch their first ads

A combine harvests wheat along the Oregon-Washington border. (AP Photo/Jeff Horner.)

The group that has raised the most money in the fight over labeling genetically modified foods in Oregon launched its first ads on Tuesday.

The ad buy represents an early shot in what is expected to be an expensive battle. Last year’s more-than-$30-million fight over a similar measure in neighboring Washington turned into the most costly ballot contest in that state’s history, with roughly three of every four dollars raised coming in after Sept. 1, according to a review of contribution data. Local reports suggest the same may end up being true of the Oregon measure, with about $3 million raised on both sides so far, according to state data.

The Yes on 92 campaign, the largest proponent of Oregon’s labeling measure, is behind the pair of ads, one featuring Oregon family farmers and another featuring Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumer Reports, the nonprofit that offers comprehensive product reviews.

“Our job is giving consumers unbiased information, so we’ve read the fine print and we strongly endorse Measure 92,” Hansen says in the ad embedded below. Labeling has not increased food costs in countries that have passed similar measures, and so it won’t in Oregon, he says.

The ads are airing statewide for at least one week, the campaign said in a release. So far, the Yes on 92 campaign has raised $1.9 million in total campaign contributions, largely from organic goods industry heavyweights, such Dr. Bronner’s and All told, groups supporting the measure have raised about $2.6 million. The No on 92 campaign, funded by grocery giants such as PepsiCo, Hershey, J.M. Smucker Company and Monsanto, has raised about $1 million.