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GMO Labeling Initiative Makes The Colorado Ballot

Greg Campbell
Contributor

A proposal to require labeling of genetically modified food will appear on the Colorado ballot in November, after supporters turned in nearly twice the amount of signatures required to bring the issue to a vote.

As a result, an article in The Washington Post warns, the state could be flooded with corporate money to ensure it’s defeated. A similar proposal in Washington state last year went down in flames after groups backed by such companies as Coca-Cola, Nestle, General Mills and Montsanto poured money into campaigns to defeat it.

According to the Post, the GMO issue was the most expensive campaign in the state’s history — two of the groups opposed to the measure spent $33 million to campaign against it, compared to a total of $10 million spent to by supporters.

Colorado’s initiative — Proposition 105 – will require products with GMO ingredients to have a label stating “Produced With Genetic Engineering.” The Colorado Department of Health and Environment would regulate the labeling.

Some foods would be exempt from the requirement, including animals that themselves were not genetically modified, but which have been fed or injected with modified feed or drugs, and foods that are not packaged for retail but which are meant for immediate consumption, among other categories.

“We are so proud of Coloradans today for their overwhelming support of consumer transparency, the right to know how our food is produced, and GMO labeling,” Tryna Cooper, a proponent of the Right to Know campaign that led the petition drive, said during a rally in early August. “A simple label on the package will not raise prices for consumers. It will give families the choice, and can help protect Colorado’s economy, in particular agricultural exports, as 64 other countries require the disclosure and labeling of GMOs in foods.”

But critics, including farmers and biotech companies, say that if it’s passed, it will cause the price of food to skyrocket.

“Proposition 105 will absolutely raise food prices to the tune of hundreds of dollars per year for a family of four,” Sara Froelich, the spokeswoman for the Coalition Against Misleading Labeling Initiative, told the Denver Post.

A survey done in June by Denver-based RBI Strategies & Research showed that 75 percent of Coloradans polled support labeling GMO food.

“These are very strong numbers and indicate that Colorado voters are highly inclined to support an initiative to require GMO labeling,” said Rick Ridder, the polling firm’s president, in a press release.

If the measure passes, Colorado will join Vermont, Connecticut and Maine in requiring labels on genetically modified food. Voters in Oregon will also decide on the issue in November.

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