Oct. 22, 2014
The fight to label GMOs does not vary much from state-to-state. Citizen-based initiatives are established by people who genuinely care and want to know what they are eating and feeding to their families, while opponents – largely massive conglomerates – counter with a LOT of money and baseless statements that scare people into believing things that simply aren’t true.
Many such pamphlets are currently circulating in advance of the election, and we just can’t stand by and not address some of the points being made.
#1- Labeling GMOs will Raise Prices and Cost Taxpayers Money. Nonsense. Companies change their labels all the time for their own purposes and for regulatory reasons, and they don’t pass the cost onto consumers. It’s considered a cost of doing business. Think about a fairly recent addition to labels that didn’t arise out of citizen initiatives, rather was passed by congress to ensure there would be clearer understanding of ingredients in packaged foods: The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004. It affected pretty much every manufacturer of packaged foods containing the top 8 allergen ingredients (soy, wheat, nuts, milk, etc.), and there was no public outcry that the extra bit of ink on the label would cost everyone more money. Furthermore, there wasn’t even outcry about the substantial effort some companies go through to segregate ingredients if they desire to have no allergens in their products. If removing allergens from products is not a determining factor, then they simply let people know what ingredients they used to make the product. There’s no shame in that; it’s public service and good business practice to be open.
It must also be said that GMO labeling laws have been passed in 64 other countries without prices being affected, and, this is the real kicker, American companies shipping products internationally to those countries with such laws do label their products accordingly! Truly, the same box of processed food containing GMOs that is sold here without indicating labels is shipped overseas with appropriate labels. Same food, different levels of transparency. It’s not a money issue. The only ones it will cost will be the massive corporations because with increased awareness and transparency, more people will choose products without GMOs. Demand will drop and prices for GMO foods will too undoubtedly.
#2- It will Hurt Oregon Farmers. We are farmers here at Azure, and we don’t think so at all. It only stands to hurt huge corporate interests by providing people the knowledge of what they are eating and thereby reducing demand for GMO products. BUT, what that does is create a stronger niche and platform for small, medium and even large farmers that want to do right by people and the planet and produce GMO-free products. Listen, Oregon is known to be individualistic and not cow-tow to the will of corporations. It has a reputation around the globe for being clean and high quality. Think about our Pacific Rim trade partners who buy a tremendous amount from Oregon because they respect that standard and don’t want GMOs. Labeling GMOs won’t ban them, but it will encourage more farmers to choose GMO-free options to grow.
#3- The Measure is Poorly Written. This is said every time by every opponent of every measure ever put forth- GMO labeling or otherwise. Is this labeling measure all-inclusive? No, but that is not the point. It is a start. We have to start raising awareness, and that is initially accomplished by information being openly presented. Honestly, we would prefer that the whole of Oregon follow the path of Jackson County and go GMO-free, period! We’re not there yet, so starting by labeling packaged foods is the first step. Again, we’ll point to the FALCPA of 2004. It is also not all inclusive by a long shot, and follows similar lines to Measure 92 with regard to which groups are included in the requirements and which are not. It’s not the end-all be-all, but it’s a start that we fully support.
Truth be told, one of the reasons we feel this labeling measure is so important is because it starts and furthers the conversation about GMOs. We don’t believe in telling another what they should or shouldn’t eat. But, we do believe in providing information so that people can make educated and informed decisions. When people begin to see “contains genetically engineered ingredients”, it will cause them to ask “what are those?”, and that is the critical question that will take us to a global shift in awareness about GMOs. People still have the right and liberty to choose as they will, AND they have the right to KNOW what they are choosing.
As you are well aware at this point, the opponents to Measure 92 in Oregon have money on their side. That’s why you are being bombarded by them on television and in your own mailbox with all the “reasons” to not support it. But, let’s show them in this great state that money does not win elections- votes do. We encourage you to vote Yes on 92 and ramp up the GMO conversation versus sweep it under the rug, for your health and the health of your future generations!