Big GMO Labeling Votes on Tap for Election Day 2014

Big GMO Labeling Votes on Tap for Election Day 2014

Voters in Oregon and Colorado will decide on GMO labeling question

For food and ag stakeholders, Measure 92 and Proposition 105 in Oregon and Colorado, respectively, are the ones to watch this election cycle as voters in each state will determine if foods containing genetically modified ingredients should be labeled as such.

To label or not to label has been an ongoing discussion in several states, with Vermont going so far as to approve a first-of-its-kind labeling measure earlier this year.

Related: Congressman Proposes Law to Head Off GMO Labeling

Voters in Oregon and Colorado will decide on GMO labeling question

While the points of debate vary widely, many GMO labeling supporters view the labels as a way to provide more information for consumers. Opponents fear labeling mandates could affect interstate commerce or result in added food costs at the grocery store.

Following the passage of Vermont's labeling bill in early 2014, food and farm groups called for a national bill that would establish GMO labeling standards and bar states from establishing labeling laws. With voluntary GMO labeling standards and oversight from the Food and Drug Administration, bill supporters said, all states could be on the same page.

Despite labeling success in Vermont – and some of Vermont's neighbors, albeit with more restrictions – other states haven't been successful in implementing GMO labeling initiatives. California's Proposition 37, for example, failed in 2012, followed by Initiative 522 in Washington last year.

Related: Oregon Group Ready to Put GMO Labeling on the Ballot

While the California and Washington votes of the past were tight battles, according to the Washington Post, Colorado's 105 has a strong likelihood of failure and Oregon's 92 is likely to pass, based on recent polling data.

Voters from two counties in Oregon earlier this year approved biotech cultivation bans within the counties' borders, potentially signaling receptiveness to further GMO oversight.

Some may argue that Oregon's measure also could have the upper hand due to endorsements and funding, while Colorado's anti-105 campaign "No on 105" has a strong following.

Each measure has raised thousands in both support and opposition, but some donors, like David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, say more money has filtered into Oregon's campaign because donors believe it has a greater chance of passing.

Bronner's company has committed about $2 million to the Oregon campaign and $50,000 to the Colorado campaign, he told Reuters.

"I would love it if our money had enough firepower to run two campaigns, but we don't. So we're focusing on Oregon," he said. "We aren't going away."


Are you interested in the GMO discussion? Penton Farm Progress Special Projects Editor Holly Spangler this summer explored GMO foods, GMO labeling and the general genetically modified food debate in an exclusive series. Follow the links below for more.

Would GM Label Ensure Food Safety?
GM Labeling: Dollars Make a Difference
GMOs: The Fight to Label
Urban Moms on GMOs


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