Proposition 37, the California statewide ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods, has seen its voter support sharply decrease during the last month, and a new poll shows the high-stakes battle now is in a dead heat, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

After a barrage of television advertisements opposing Proposition 37, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll recently released showed 44 percent of surveyed voters backing the initiative and 42 percent opposing it, while 14 percent remain undecided or unwilling to take a position. Over the last month, support for the initiative dropped 17 percentage points and opposition grew by the same amount.  A previous USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll taken September 17 to 23 had 61 percent in favor, 25 percent opposed, and 14 percent undecided.

The initiative, if approved, would make California the first state to require labels on genetically engineered crops or processed foods, such as most corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and Hawaiian papayas.  It would require labels on supermarket shelves, food packages, or produce bins.

The opposition campaign said it is concentrating on telling voters that Proposition 37 is far from “a simple  labeling measure.” It will raise food prices, increase government bureaucracy and spur lawsuits, campaign spokeswoman Kathy Fairbanks said.  “We’ve been encouraging voters to look into the details and evaluate whether they want to live with the consequences of Proposition 37,” she said.  “The loss of support indicated they don’t.”

The opposition campaign is being supported by such companies as Monsanto Company, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Nestle.  Television spots feature doctors, scientists, and farmers criticizing Proposition 37, pointing out that Proposition 37 is using non-scientific scare tactics, providing confusing exemptions of certain foods, and potentially driving up grocery costs.

The telephone survey of 1,504 registered voters around the state, was conducted October 15 to October 21.  It has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.