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Oregon GMO-Labeling Campaign Gets Money, Major Endorsement

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Oregon News page.

Among the first signs of trouble for California's Proposition 37 and Washington's Initiative 522 were critical newspaper editorial writers who found flaws in the food-labeling measures, both of which ended up narrowly failing at the ballot box.

But this year in Oregon and Colorado, anyone looking to newspaper editorials for an early cue on how Measure 92 (OR) or Initiative 105 (CO) are going to come out will have to be satisfied with mixed results.

The Eugene Register-Guard in Oregon's southern Willamette Valley, the state's most influential newspaper outside of Portland, is the first big daily to endorse a ballot measure requiring labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In urging voters to approve Measure 92, the Register-Guard said that Oregon should be on the "cutting edge" of the GMO-labeling movement.

That position marks a reversal in the R-G's previous editorial stance on the issue. The newspaper opposed Measure 27 in 2002, which was overwhelming defeated by Oregon voters in every county, opining then that the Beaver State should not be out of sync with national food markets.

This year, the Eugene newspaper says the fact that peer-reviewed scientific studies have found no evidence that GMOs pose a food safety risk to humans "is irrelevant if a problem exists in the minds of a majority of voters."

"If Oregonians have concerns that genetic engineering may have health consequences, then they have the right to know if their food contains GMO ingredients," the editorial states.

The Denver Post, Colorado's largest daily newspaper, has come out against I-105, calling the GMO food-labeling initiative "a badly flawed measure." The Post says that the ballot measure will hurt Colorado farmers and food producers without providing any health benefit to consumers.

"Backers of the measure say all they want is transparency. So Prop 105 would require the phrase 'Produced with Genetic Engineering' to appear on certain foods. Such a rule might be relatively harmless if it were carefully written and implemented as part of national labeling law, but neither is the case,' states the Post. It goes on to say, "To begin with, the measure would put Colorado food producers who ship to other states at a disadvantage. Will grocery stores in those states be as willing to stock Colorado products once they stand out in this fashion?