Election Special: Measure 92, GMO Labeling

By Andy Combs, Staff Writer

 

 

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This November, Measure 92, would require food manufacturers and retailers to label  GMO’s, genetically modified organisms in foods. It would give Oregon voters the chance to become among the first to successfully push through labeling. Currently some twenty five states have proposals, measures and bills on the books and the movement appears to be gaining momentum.

If voted into action, the measure would take effect on January 2016 when enforcement would begin in the labeling of packages, shelves, and bins that contain food defined as food produced form organisms with genetic material changed through in vitro nucleic acid techniques and certain cell-fusing techniques. Food served in restaurants, animal feed, and plants bred with traditional techniques are all exempt  from the measure.

Those in opposition such as  the NAACP of Corvallis/Albany claim  that Measure 92 will increase food costs for low-income families. Others say the labeling law in contention is  poorly written, would require too much money and administrative resources, and that the labeling laws themselves are misleading and would not fully inform consumers of Genetically Engeineered content. “About two- thirds of foods that Oregonians consume  would be exempt from Measure 92’s  labeling requirements, ” writes OSU plant scientist, Dr. Steven H. Strauss in the 2014  Voter’s Pamphlet.

Outcries from local farmers, ranchers, and Right to Know activists have countered the opposing side. Citing the fact that in addition to Canada, the United States  is one of the few major countries in the world that does not require GMO  labeling, proponents websites such as “labelgmos.org”, believe it is analogous to nutrition fact labeling: “We didn’t use  to label foods with calorie or nutritional value information, but we do now and most consumers use this information every day.”

Oregon is rapidly becoming a hub of organic farming and sustainable practices and many proponents of measure 91 believe that not labeling GMO’s could damage Oregon’s agricultural economy. Ranked 3rd  in organic farm- gate sales by the USDA, the state’s $233  million a year organic food industry exists in an economic climate where “foods  identified as non-genetically engineered  are the fastest growing segment of  agriculture”, as is stated in the measure’s  Section 1.14.

FOLLOW THE MONEY:

The Associated Press reported last  Tuesday that close to 3,000 small contributions to the pro-labeling  campaign have been reported as well as larger donations such as the Center for  Food Safety in Portland, who contributed  $1.1 million and Dr. Bronner’s Magic  Soap who provided $900,000. However,  these figures amount only to half of the  funding currently propelling the anti- labeling campaign, who’ve accepted large  donations from corporations and biotech  companies such as Monsanto, PepsiCo  Inc and Kraft Foods. Both sides have  also reported large expenditures on the  campaign so far. At this point however,  only Oregon voters can decide if GMO  labels will be a new requirement.

 

 

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