GMO labeling foes to spend big in Oregon


Oregon’s mandatory genetically modified organism (GMO)-labeling initiative named as Measure 92 is all set to become the costliest vote in the history of the state.

Opponents of the GMO food labeling proposal have already raised about $20 million for the ‘no’ campaign against the proposed laws in the state, according to campaign finance reports. This is nearly triple the amount that was raised by the ‘yes’ campaigners of the initiative.

On November 6, voters in Oregon and Colorado are going to vote on this issue and decide the fate of the opponents of the GMO food labeling.

With the genetically engineered crops being common in the US, it becomes necessary to label foods that are manufactured with genetically engineered crops.

Two similar measures had failed to convince voters in Washington during 2013 and in California during 2012. Though last year Vermont made it mandatory to label GMO foods, a group of grocery makers sued and blocked the law.

Corporate houses that oppose the measure include powerhouses like chemical giant and developer of biotech crops Monsanto Co., Kraft Foods., Kellogg Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

In Oregon, the finance reports of the campaign filed on Wednesday reveal that opponents raised at least $10.7 million in their bid to defeat the legislation.

On October 8, Monsanto alone made a contribution of $2.5 million to oppose GMO labeling. The donation came to light on Wednesday on the website of Oregon’s secretary of state.

With this donation, the total contributions of Monsanto crossed $4 million.

In contrast, the supporters of the mandatory labeling were able to rake in just about $5.5 million.

Meanwhile in Colorado, most of the same opponents raised contributions of $11.2 million. In contrast, the supporters brought in $441,000, campaign reports revealed.

Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s is one of the key financial supporters of the GMO labeling in addition to organic food companies, family farm and food safety groups and several individuals.

A key leader of the coalition of groups who are in favor of the mandatory GMO labeling, Larry Cooper, said the opponents are only trying to fool their consumers.

Though supporters of the mandatory GMO labeling state that genetically engineered foods are harmful to human health as they contain residues of pesticides, those opposing the initiative reject this argument.

As per the labeling supporters, consumers have a right to know if the food items that they are eating are prepared with the gene-altered sugar beets, soyabeans or corn.

However, the opponents claim the GM crops are safe like the organic crops. They further claim that the labeling will add to the costs and burden the food manufacturers and the consumers.

If the voters approve the Measure 92, then Oregon will become the first state in the US to make GMO labeling mandatory at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the labeling opponents in Oregon, Colin Cochran, stated that a need to label GMO foods will not only confuse consumers but also add to the costs of manufacturing the food products.

Stating that it will not really help the voters with their food choices, Cochran said the labeling will actually mislead the consumers.


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