Friday, July 4, 2014
Oregon now epicenter of national GMO debate:
A battle is being waged in Oregon’s grocery stores, wheat and sugar beet fields, restaurant tables and pantry shelves.
The long-simmering national debate over genetically modified organisms figures to hit fever pitch this summer, with Oregon at the forefront.
Three separate but related events last month built momentum here for the crusade against GMOs:
• On May 15, the grassroots group Oregon Right to Know launched a statewide initiative campaign to require labeling of all GMO food products.
• On May 20, voters in Southern Oregon’s Jackson and Josephine counties approved measures to ban the growth of genetically engineered crops. Benton and Lane county voters may see similar ballot measures this fall.
• On May 24, an estimated 6,000 people rallied in downtown Portland in the second-annual March Against Monsanto. Elsewhere that day, activists marched in 46 other states and 52 countries on six continents.
“A lot of us are just beginning to understand what GMOs are,” says local mom and backyard gardener Susan Laarman. “It’s been kind of a secret.”
Sandeep Kaushik, spokesman for the Oregon Right to Know campaign, says the proposed ballot measure incorporates lessons learned.
“In Washington, they were able to make highly misleading arguments by taking language from the initiative and twisting, taking out of context, like labeling would apply to dog food,” he says. Oregon’s proposed measure explicitly states that the labeling doesn’t apply to food intended for animals.
Opponents also raised the specter of big lawsuits against companies that don’t comply with the labeling. Oregon’s proposal makes it explicit that there can be no punitive damages included in the legal action.
Posted by JOlmsted at 5:39 AM