Monday, July 7, 2014

Oregon Measure 27, 2002: Flying Their Freakfood Flag High

Flying Their Freakfood Flag High:

Donna Harris, a Portlander and mother of two, says that two years ago she heard a radio report about genetically altered food. It sparked her clash with the political might of the global biotech industry.

Harris started researching, and what she found led her to submit Measure 27, an initiative on the November ballot that would make Oregon the only state in the nation to require the labeling of genetically altered foods.
Today, the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company and a Belgium-based industry lobbying group called Croplife International stand poised to pour a reported $6 million into a TV ad blitz to defeat the page-and-a-half-long document Harris wrote. Monsanto licenses 90 percent of the foods that would be covered by the measure.

"If they spend $6 million, that would set a new high," says John Lindback, of the Secretary of State's office.

Harris says she can't understand what the fuss is: "If your technology is so great, then why won't you give me a choice in the supermarket?"

Harris has been widely portrayed in the national media as a mom looking out for her kids. In reality, she is also longtime ballot-measure activist who, with her husband, Parker Bell, represents a progressive version of signature-gathering king Bill Sizemore. (She once worked for Sizemore, helping run his ballot-measure operation).

The measure, which she cribbed from a failed Colorado initiative, would call for the labeling of any product that contains genetically altered material consisting of more than one-tenth of 1 percent of its weight.

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