Signature Gathering Effort Launches May 15, 2014
Coalition leaders from food safety, environmental and consumer protection groups announced they will move forward with a major statewide initiative campaign to require labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms
Portland, OR (May 15) — Today Oregon Right to Know announced that they are moving forward with a major statewide signature gathering effort to place a measure requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms to be labeled on the November ballot.
Appearing before an enthusiastic group of campaign supporters at the campaign office in NE Portland, campaign leaders announced that they expect to run a full-scale statewide campaign, and will use both paid signature gatherers and hundreds of volunteers to collect the 87,213 valid signatures needed by July 3 to place the measure on the November ballot.
“We have a right to know important information about the food we eat and feed our families. We should have the right to choose whether we want to buy and eat genetically engineered food,” said Aurora Paulsen, an attorney at the Center for Food Safety, a major backer of the initiative effort.
At the press conference, the campaign announced a major national endorsement from Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumer Union, which produces Consumer Reports. Hansen is a leading national expert on food safety issues (he was unable to attend the press event today in person).
“This legislation requires all manufacturers to properly label their foods when they contain genetically engineered ingredients. This will provide Oregonians with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about the foods they purchase and consume, and to identify any potential health problems that may arise from consumption of such foods,” Hansen wrote in a statement ( see attached). “The bottom line is that genetic engineering is different than conventional breeding and raise potential safety issues, so that foods derived from genetic engineering should be labeled, both because consumers have a right-to-know what they are eating and to identify any potential health problems that may arise from consumption of such foods. Consumers Union strongly supports passage of Ballot Initiative #44.”
Julia DeGraw of Food & Water Watch, another major coalition partner of Oregon Right to Know, said that her organization’s work across the state makes it clear that the GMO labeling measure will resonate with Oregonians.
“Oregon’s commitment to protecting its beautiful places and promoting locally grown natural food makes it special. We are a national leader in doing the right thing to protect our state and our people, and we should lead the country in requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. Congress is incapable of getting anything done, so it’s time for Oregon to lead the way,” DeGraw said.
David Rosenfeld, the Executive Director of OSPIRG, said Oregon Right to Know has no illusions about the battle they will face to win in November.
“We know from past experience that the big chemical companies that manufacture GMOs, like Monsanto and Dow, will spend millions to try to confuse the issue and block Oregon residents from being able to decide for themselves whether or not to eat GMOs,” Rosenfeld said.