Monday, July 28, 2014

Potential for real food fight if GMO labeling makes ballot | Colorado Statesman

Potential for real food fight if GMO labeling makes ballot | Colorado Statesman:

“Obviously we needed to take a look at how the citizens of Colorado would react to this and it’s been a huge demand,” explained Larry Cooper, lead proponent of the Right to Know drive.
He said proponents are working with an army of about 550 volunteers. In fact, Cooper said the entire campaign is made up of volunteers; there is no paid staff.
They have established an issue committee, Right to Know Colorado GMO, which has taken in about $76,000 in donations. Most of the donations came from individuals, but the larger donations came from GMO labeling advocacy groups, as well as from distributors and makers of GMO-free brands.
Food Democracy Action, a nonprofit dedicated to labeling efforts, donated $25,000, and Presence Marketing Inc., an Illinois-based “environmentally conscious” marketing firm with an office in Boulder, also donated $25,000.
Opponents have established their own issue committee, Coalition Against the Misleading Labeling Initiative, which has just started fundraising efforts. If the measure qualifies for the ballot, opponents expect to have adequate funding to defeat it.

Producers express concerns
But farmers worry that the ballot proposal is only serving to advance a sense of paranoia and hysteria. They say there is no concrete science yet to indicate that GMOs are bad for consumers.
“I would call it closer to a religion, an anti-GMO religious zealot movement,” opined Mark Sponsler, chief executive of Colorado Corn, the advocacy group for corn growers in Colorado.
“We have to rely on a credible scientific method, not just someone claiming that GMOs made their babies born naked,” he quipped. “I mean the world is full of people making claims about products that have no validity.”
Sponsler is no stranger to farming. His family hails from the south central area of Iowa where he would have been a fourth generation farmer had it not been for environmental and financial challenges.
“It runs deep in my history and in my roots, I’m not just a hired gun for corn farmers,” he said.
GMO practices have been used for about two decades, explained Sponsler. He said the techniques have proven to be critical to assist farmers with growing stable crops, including the ability to use fewer pesticides.

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