Organic Consumers Association

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Oregon Ponders GM Future

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

The movement to label genetically modified foods suffered a major blow last month with the defeat of ballot measure 522 in Washington state, which would have required manufacturers to label foods containing GM ingredients.

So what does 522's defeat mean for the GM-labeling efforts in Oregon? Ivan Maluski at Friends of Family Farmers, a pro-labeling nonprofit that works on policy issues to protect socially responsible farming in Oregon, says his group will urge Oregon legislators to introduce a labeling law during the February session. "We believe the economic impact would be minimal and that the transparency would benefit consumers," Maluski told me in an e-mail.

Scott Bates, director of GMO-Free Oregon and chief petitioner for a GM labeling initiative (that, if approved, will be on the ballot in 2014), says his group is also pushing the legislature to introduce a bill in February.

In Washington, many agricultural organizations opposed I-522-including the Washington State Farm Bureau and the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. Whether or not that means Oregon farmers and food processors will be in favor of a GM labeling law remains to be seen.

According to Oregon Department of Agriculture spokesman Bruce Pokarney, Oregon doesn't grow a lot of GM crops - just sugar beet seed, alfalfa, some field corn, and a smattering of GM canola in eastern Oregon. Presumably that means that most Oregon farmers wouldn't be impacted by a GM labeling law.  
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