GMO Free Oregon begins gathering signatures for GMO labeling ballot initiative

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(NaturalNews) An Oregon group opposed to genetically modified foods has begun gathering signatures for a statewide ballot measure in November that would require labeling of ingredients for all such products sold in the state.

The measure, if successful, would mirror Vermont's recently passed legislation requiring that GMO foods be labeled, though that law is being challenged by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other pro-GMO interests. If it survives legal challenges, the law is scheduled to take effect in mid-2016.

If the measure is successful, the initiative -- which has been launched by Oregon GMO Right to Know -- "would require food manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to label raw and packaged foods produced entirely or partly by genetic engineering. The measure would not apply to animal feed or food served in restaurants. It would be effective January 2016," The Bend Bulletin newspaper reported.

Labeling efforts are gaining momentum

State officials say more than 87,000 signatures are needed to qualify the measure for the ballot. The organization has until July 3 to collect the necessary number of signatures.

The United States government, unlike other nations, does not currently require the labeling of GMO foods, despite the fact that the issue has been growing in importance for millions of people across the country in recent years, resulting in more Americans than ever pushing for labeling.

As further reported by The Bend Bulletin:

Maine and Connecticut have enacted labeling laws for engineered foods, but those won't go into effect until other states in the region follow suit. Counties in Hawaii, Washington state and California have adopted laws banning or limiting genetically modified organisms.

There are 85 bills on GMO labeling in 30 states, with more than half introduced this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as dueling bills in Congress.

A pair of recent ballot measures have failed, however. In November, Washington voters, by a narrow margin, failed to approve a mandate to label GMO foods. Supporters of the initiative blamed a record $22 million raised and spent by opponents of the measure to defeat it. Donors included large biotechnology firms and food makers. By comparison, supporters raised about $8.1 million.

Also, a ballot measure in California, Proposition 37, failed, though Mike Adams, the Health Ranger and editor of Natural News, rightly pointed out that the vote was a "victory" for GMO labeling awareness.

A decade earlier in Oregon, a 2002 GMO labeling initiative also failed to pass. But concern over GMO foods regained renewed interest in the state a couple of years ago when a number of organic farmers in the southern half of the state discovered genetically altered beets where being grown in fields near them.

GMOs are safe? Then why resist labeling efforts?

The discovery led a number of farmers in several counties to push for new measures banning genetically modified crops, though only one initiative made it to ballot. Voters in Jackson County are set to decide the issue around the end of May.

As further reported by The Bend Bulletin:

Hoping to forestall a patchwork of local regulations, Oregon enacted legislation barring counties from adopting GMO bans. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber also created a task force on genetically engineered agriculture and directed the state's Department of Agriculture to examine issues surrounding GMO crops, including labeling.

Opponents of labeling keep saying that there is little scientific evidence that GMO foods are unsafe for human consumption or cause any substantial health problems, but then they continually resist labeling efforts.

"Monsanto and other companies appear to have won this showdown in California, but they are going to lose the war of deception against consumers. As awareness of GMOs continues to spread, people will demand honest labeling in increasing numbers," Adams has written.

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