Scott Bates

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Scott Bates published Spread the word 2012-05-08 10:52:44 -0700

Spread the word

We appreciate all you do to make sure everyone hears about this Oregon Ballot Initiative!

Once you sign up on the website and share links with your personal tracking code, you will start to earn Political Capital. We'll work on some clever ways to recognize and show our appreciation to those who share the message the most! It's our way of giving thanks to all of you for helping us spread the word. 

Scott Bates published About GMOs 2012-05-08 10:45:08 -0700

What is GMO food?

“Genetically modified organisms” (GMOs), “genetically engineered” (GE)  and “genetically modified” (GM) food are plants or animals whose genes have been artificially tampered with in a laboratory. The science is collectively called “transgenics”.  Genes from bacteria, insects, unrelated plants or animals – even humans - are used to make new plants or animals.   Depending on the purpose, these new organisms may produce pesticides, drugs, or other substances, such as cows being genetically engineered to produce human breast milk.  Currently, the most common GM trait is to create a plant that can survive being sprayed with large amounts of herbicides, such as the “RoundUp Ready” line of soybeans, sugar beets, and cotton.  

Many of these GMOs are currently in our food supply, even though the American public has demonstrated reluctance to eat them when given the choice.

Is genetic engineering different from plant or animal breeding?

Genetic engineering is a completely different process than plant or animal breeding.  Any home gardener can develop new plant varieties through the age old practice of selection and pollination.  Plant and animal breeding has been performed in the same way by farmers all over the world throughout time.  Our several thousand-year history of plant breeding has created an amazing selection of fruits, nuts, vegetables and animals for every climate and human need – genetically diverse plants and livestock that feed and clothe the world.

Breeding is mating (aka, the “birds and the bees”).  In this completely natural process, only related varieties or species can cross-breed.  For example broccoli can be crossed with cabbage because they are closely related plants, but broccoli can’t be crossed with a tomato (an unrelated plant) or a pig (not a plant).

Genetically engineered organisms are created in high-tech laboratories by scientists performing a type of cell invasion - genetic surgery that artificially combines the DNA of unrelated organisms.  For example, genes from a toxic, pesticide-producing bacterium are inserted into corn to create the widely-grown BT Corn.  Human genes have been inserted into cows or pigs.  You can’t try this at home, folks.

Genetic engineers use a few different types of technology including expensive instruments called “gene guns” that shoot genes into cells, as well as E. coli bacteria and viruses that transmit the desired genes into cells.  As any health official knows, bacteria and viruses are almost impossible to control and can have serious public health consequences. They survive through rapid evolution, adding an additional risk and level of unpredictability to GE technology.

Could I be eating genetically modified foods (GMOs)?

Almost certainly.  If you eat corn, soy, canola, or sugar that isn’t specifically labeled as “cane sugar”, you are most likely eating GMOs.  Cottonseed oil is another genetically modified food and is commonly used in restaurants, fast food and processed pastries.

The Center for Food Safety states that “Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton… According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.”

Are GMOs safe to eat?

Unfortunately, GMOs have a sordid history.  In 1989, a form of tryptophan made from GE bacterium killed 37 people, disabled 1,500 people and sickened approximately 5,000 people.  To date, only one GMO feeding study has been completed on humans, and though it showed problems it was never thoroughly investigated.  Numerous studies involving mice and rats have been completed, demonstrating serious effects including liver and kidney damage and dysfunction, increased allergic reactions, changes to the gut lining, and reduced fertility.

A report by the US Center for Disease Control shows that food-related illnesses increased dramatically between 1994 (just before GM food entered into public consumption) and 1999. Is there a link to GMOs?  No one knows, because thorough studies on humans have not been done and GMO food is not labeled.  Without labeling, it is impossible for public health organizations and consumers to trace health concerns to GM food.

GM food also encourages the increased use of pesticides.  In fact, the most common GM crops are specifically designed to be tolerant of the herbicide RoundUp.  This has created a new farming practice of directly spraying food crops with herbicides – something previously impossible, since a regular (non-genetically engineer) plant could not survive these sprays.  Because of this practice, these chemicals are now permeating our food system.

For a detailed scientific look at the problems created by GMOs, read GM CROPS – JUST THE SCIENCE: research documenting the limitations, risks, and alternatives.

Is labeling of GMOs required anywhere?

Yes.  Many developed and developing nations have labeling laws, including 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China!

What’s more, dozens of countries have banned or restricted the import, distribution, sale, utilization, field trials and commercial planting of GMOs including Brazil, Germany, Egypt, Algeria, China, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Peru and the European Union.

Why aren’t GMOs labeled in the U.S.?

Simply, because the American public has not demanded they be labeled.  Most people in the U.S. have not been told about the prevalence of GMOs, let alone the health concerns.  Shouldn’t it be our right to choose what we eat?  Right now, if you want to be absolutely sure you are not eating GM food, you would need to completely avoid soy, corn, canola, beets, wheat, flax, cotton, and many more foods!

How can I help get GMOs labeled?

Share this information with friends, family, and co-workers.  Sign our petition to support the Oregon GMO labeling measure, and vote for it this November!  Tell your elected officials to vote in support of the labeling initiatives. Use this link to find your state legislator. Check your county commissioner’s office to find your local commissioner.

And, very importantly, write your favorite food companies in support of GMO labeling.  When enough of us speak out, they will listen to their customers! 

How do I learn more?

Visit theCenter for Food Safety. Download a copy of the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, or the iPhone App. Watch the DVD The Future of Food.   Check out the book Genetically Engineered Foods by Laura Ticciati and Robin Ticciati, Ph.D.  For an in depth read, take a look at Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods by Jeffrey M. Smith, or Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food by Andrew Kimbrell.  Take a look at our resources page for other excellent books, movies, websites, and links to research abstracts about GMOs. 

Scott Bates published home 2012-05-08 10:05:59 -0700

About the initiative

Oregon consumers have the right to know whether or not the food they purchase was produced using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable, and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences. 

Fifty countries including the European Union and Japan have laws mandating that genetically engineered foods be labeled, but the United States does not have such a requirement. Public opinion polls indicate that over 90 percent of American voters support the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The Oregon Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food initiative follows in the footsteps of the current California initiative ( ) and is joined by similar legislation efforts earlier this year in Vermont and Connecticut.  All four, including ours here in Oregon strive to address the lack of GMO labeling and consumer knowledge by requiring that:

  • Processed foods that contain GMO derived ingredients be labeled as containing genetically engineered food
  • Foods about to come on the market that are wholly themselves a genetically modified organism (Corn-on-the-cobb, Salmon) be clearly labled as genetically engineered 
  • The labeling, advertising and marketing of genetically engineered foods using terms such as “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” or “all natural” is misleading to consumers and therefor GMO products cannot be labeled as such.

You can read the full text of the initative here: Oregon Right to Know Genetically Engineered Foods

Scott Bates published Endorse 2012-05-08 02:17:59 -0700

Scott Bates published Donate 2012-05-08 02:07:00 -0700

Kendall Weaver followed Join 2012-09-08 14:07:34 -0700

Scott Bates published Blog 2012-05-07 13:28:37 -0700

Scott Bates published About 2012-05-07 13:28:35 -0700

About Oregon Right to Know

This is where you tell everyone about Oregon Right to Know.