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Food labels are important. They tell us information like sugar and sodium levels, whether flavors are natural or artificial, and if fish is wild or farm-raised. But current food labeling law leaves out one crucial item – whether the food we buy is genetically modified.
What is Measure 92?
This summer, more than 155,000 Oregonians signed a petition to a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot in our state.
Measure 92 requires the labeling of all raw and packaged foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. That means the measure would apply to food containing DNA that has been altered in a laboratory via engineering or biotechnology.
There’s a lot we don’t know about GMOs, including health and environmental implications. What we do know is that Oregon families have the right to make informed choices about what they are eating.
Both California and Washington have come close to passing similar initiatives. In 2012, Proposition 37 was defeated in California, coming close with 49% of the vote share. In 2013, Washington’s Initiative 522 was defeated 52 to 48 percent. Pro-labeling groups were outspend in California and Washington and thus faced similar uphill battles. They were opposed by a number of big agribusiness companies and front groups, including Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who spent tens of millions of dollars to confuse and mislead voters about labeling.
If Measure 92 succeeds, Oregon could become the first state to pass GMO-labeling by popular vote.
Why label genetically modified foods?
Labeling genetically modified foods is a common sense measure. Oregonians have the right to know what is in the food that they eat, and they can’t make informed choices without informative labels. Labeling GMO foods would aid shoppers who are worried about the potential effects of increased pesticides and herbicides decide which products they want to buy.
Sixty-four other countries, including many of our major trade partners, have already put similar labeling laws in place. All of the nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia, and China have GMO labeling laws. American food companies are already required to label the foods that they export to those countries.
Who is Yes on 92 up against?
The No on 92 Coalition is made up of Big Food and chemical industry giants including Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont. The companies make an enormous profit from selling genetically modified foods, and they fear that a GMO labeling law would threaten their bottom line. These companies are ready to spend big to bombard the airwaves in hopes of torpedoing Measure 92.
According to a poll conducted by the New York Times, 93% of Americans support GMO labeling and three-quarters of Americans expressed concern about the effects GMOs on their health. Given these statistics how did Proposition 37 in California and Initiative 522 in Washington fail? In both states pro-labeling was initially polling better. These numbers took a nosedive after corporate money and the anti-labeling lobby started flooding the airwaves with their massive disinformation campaigns. Many observers cite a heavy advertising presence from the opposition leading up to the election as the reason for the eventual defeat of the referendums. In both states, labeling opponents were able to convince voters that the labeling bills were poorly written and would only increase bureaucracy, causing grocery prices to go up for consumers.
Yes on 92 is currently leading in the polls, but this is no time to rest on our laurels. The No on 92 Coalition recently placed $1.8 million ad buy to blanket the Oregon airwaves with the same kind of ads that helped defeat labeling measures in California and Washington. With their corporate profits on the line, Big Food and chemical corporations are willing to say anything and spend any amount to prevent consumers from knowing what is in their food.
How can you help?
Please click here to pledge to vote yes on Measure 92!
Yes on 92 needs volunteers to spread the word on the campaign. Click here to find out how you can volunteer.
Finally, Yes on 92 needs to be ready to counter these massive attacks from Big Food. Click here to make a secure online contribution – even $5 really helps!
For more information about this campaign, please visit http://oregonrighttoknow.org/.