Oregon Right to Know

We have the right to know what's in our food!

Myths Debunked

Don’t Be Fooled by the False Claims from Junk Food and Pesticide Companies:

1. Labeling Genetically Engineered Products Will NOT Increase the Cost of Food

The big chemical companies that manufacture genetically engineered foods have spread spent millions trying to confuse voters with the false claim that labeling genetically engineered foods will raise prices and hurt consumers. Numerous studies show adding a simple disclosure to food labels does not increase prices. Sixty-four other countries, including all of Europe and Japan, require labeling. U.S. food companies already label it in those countries. They should do the same for us.

The truth is that food companies routinely change their labels for advertising/branding purposes without increasing cost, so complying with our labeling initiative would at most have only a minute impact on costs. Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, recently found that labeling genetically engineered food would cost less than $2.30 per person, per year. Or less than a penny a day.

Additionally, labeling the genetically engineered foods that are exported to any of the 64 countries that already require labeling has not increased the cost of our food by one cent. Many American foods companies sell their products in those countries and disclose genetically engineered ingredients on their labels without incurring any additional costs. If they can provide that information to their customers in Europe, Japan and Australia, they can do the same here in Oregon.

2. Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods Will NOT Hurt Farmers

The claim that labeling genetically engineered goods will hurt farmers is a common claim made by anti-labeling opponents, but it is flat out false.

In May, voters in two rural Oregon farm counties – Jackson and Josephine County – overwhelmingly passed bans on genetically engineered crops because genetically engineered crops can contaminate neighboring farms. Since genetically engineered crops were first introduced in the mid-1990s, over 200 contamination events have been reported, costing U.S. farmers billions of dollars. These bans were supported by hundreds of local farmers, granges and restaurants, and demonstrate that many farmers understand that they are being harmed by the spread of genetically engineered crops.

Many farmers support labeling genetically engineered food because they stand by the food they grow and it provides a clear way for farmers who choose to not grow genetically engineered crops to differentiate their product. Labeling helps farmers by ensuring that Oregonians can legitimately ‘vote with their dollars’ for the farmers and their traditional crops versus out of state chemical companies who make genetically engineered crops.

Moreover, our initiative includes specific protections that guarantee that farmers cannot be sued under this measure, full stop (see section 6); they are liable only under existing perjury laws if they grow and sell a genetically engineered crop without disclosing that to a buyer. They are also not liable or responsible if their fields are inadvertently contaminated. This measure is carefully written to protect farmers from harm and enhance their ability to appropriately market their products, all while ensuring Oregonians have a right to know what’s in the food they eat.

3. There are NO exemptions. All raw and packaged foods sold in stores must disclose if they were produced with genetic engineering, just like they are in 64 other countries.

Attacking the language of this initiative is a scare tactic pushed by big chemical companies with a vested interest in confusing the public about labeling. They spent millions promoting this false attack in their campaigns against labeling initiatives in Washington and California. Don’t fall for their lies.

The fact of the matter is that the language of our initiative in Oregon has been carefully drafted to protect farmers and businesses, comply with and complement existing regulations, and establish clear and fair rules for labeling genetically engineered products. All raw and packaged food sold stores must disclose if they are produced with genetic engineering, full stop.

In previous campaigns, labeling opponents misled voters with a barrage of false tv ads that claimed that previous initiatives would require dog food to be labeled. The wording of our initiative explicitly states that labels will only apply to foods intended for human consumption.

And the rules for what foods must be labeled are designed to comply with both common sense and existing laws. For example, meat or dairy productions from genetically engineered animals have to be labeled, but meat or dairy products that come from regular animals that are just fed genetically engineered feed do not need to be labeled. This is the same labeling standard worldwide.

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