Oregon proponents of GMO labeling say
expect ballot measure to qualify
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[July 02, 2014]
By Shelby Sebens
PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Advocates of
mandatory labeling of genetically engineered crops in Oregon said they
had collected more than enough signatures to qualify a measure for the
November ballot, and planned to submit them on Wednesday to state
The statewide ballot measure, if it passes, would require labeling
of products containing genetically modified ingredients intended to
make them resistant to disease and insects, beginning in January
“We’ve done this in a very short period of time,” Oregon Right to
Know spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said of the 150,000 signatures
collected since the group won a court challenge in May to seek the
ballot measure. “We’re really pleased with how well our signature
gathering has gone.”
The group needs 87,213 valid signatures by Thursday to get its
measure on the ballot.
GMO labeling advocates say there are concerns about the safety and
environmental impact of genetically engineered crops, and labels
would help consumers distinguish products containing GMOs so they
can avoid them if they wish.
But the move away from GMOs has upset the food and agriculture
industries, including makers of genetically modified corn, soybeans,
canola and other crops widely used in packaged foods. They say their
products are safe and that mandatory labels will confuse consumers
and increase costs.
Scott Dahlman, executive director of Oregonians for Food and
Shelter, said in a statement he expected a broad base of opposition
if the initiative qualified. Oregonians voted against GMO labeling
"This is a costly and misleading initiative that would hurt
thousands of Oregon family farmers and small store owners, cost
Oregon taxpayers millions of dollars and increase grocery bills for
Oregon families by hundreds of dollars each year," he said.
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Voters in two small Oregon counties in May approved ballot measures
to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops within their
boundaries. Kaushik said those votes showed there was widespread
interest and concern over GMOs.
“People feel like they have a right to know whether the food they’re
buying in grocery stores for their families is engineered in a lab
or not,” he said.
Consumer sentiment has pushed a growing number of U.S. food
companies to start using non-genetically modified ingredients
because of the consumer backlash against GMOs. Vermont in May became
the first state to mandate GMO labeling.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)
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