The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods has been working since 1999 to pass federal legislation to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in the United States. We strongly support Oregon Ballot Measure 27.
According to a June 13-17, 2001 survey from ABC News, 93 percent of those polled said the federal government should require labels on food saying whether it has been genetically modified. ABC News stated "Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare."
While legislation to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods nationwide was introduced into both the 106th and the current 107th U.S. Congress, it has not received the priority treatment needed to pass it into law.
In the European Union, Australia, Japan, China and many other nations, the controversy over genetically engineered foods has received significant media coverage. As a result, mandatory labeling laws have been enacted in all those countries. Yet in the United States, we still don't have this right.
The food industry does not want labels on genetically engineered foods because they are concerned people will start asking questions such as "Have these foods ever been safety tested for human consumption?" The answer to that question is "NO!" The FDA decided that genetically engineered foods are "substantially equivalent" to non-genetically engineered foods and need no additional safety testing or labeling. Currently the biotech companies do not even need to notify the FDA that they are bringing a new product to market. The very corporations that have a financial interest in selling the products get to decide whether they are safe or not.
Oregon voters are smart and have often shown leadership in important areas of public concern before the rest of the country. Oregon citizens now have another opportunity to show leadership in the area of labeling genetically engineered foods.
Tell big business that you want the right to know if your foods have been genetically engineered. Vote YES on Measure 27!
(This information furnished by Craig Winters, The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods.)
ENGINEERED (GE) FOODS (UPDATED FEBRUARY 1, 2002)
- 90% of Americans said foods created through genetic engineering processes should have special labels on them (Rutgers University' Food Policy Institute study, 11/01)
- 90% of American farmers support labels on biotech products if they are scientifically different from conventional foods and 61% support labels on biotech products even if not scientifically different. (Farm Foundation/Kansas State University, survey of farms throughout the U.S., 9/01).
- 93% of Americans say the federal government should require labels saying whether it's been genetically modified, or bioengineered. "Such near unanimity in public opinion is rare" (ABC News.com poll, 6/01).
- 86% of Americans think that the government should require the labeling of all packaged and other food products stating that they include corn, soy or other products which have come from genetically modified crops (Harris Poll, 6/00).
- 86% of Americans want labels on genetically engineered foods (International Communications Research, 3/00)
- 81% of Americans think the government should require genetically engineered food products to be labeled. 89% of Americans think the government should require pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered foods before they are marketed, as with any food additive. (MSNBC Live Vote Results, 1/00).
- 92% of Americans support legal requirements that all genetically engineered foods be labeled. (BSMG Worldwide for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, 9/99).
- 81% of American consumers believe GE food should be labeled. 58% say that if GE foods were labeled they would avoid purchasing them. (Time magazine, 1/99).
- 93% of women surveyed say they want all GE food clearly labeled. (National Federation of Women's Institutes, 1998)."
For more polls see http;//www.centerforfoodsafety.org/facts&issues/polls.html
(This information furnished by Donna Harris, Oregon Concerned Citizens for Safe Foods.)
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group of doctors committed to human health, patient safety, scientific honesty and environmental protection, supports a yes vote on Measure 27.
Less than a decade since their introduction, two-thirds of products in U.S. supermarket shelves contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Only one-third of Americans are aware that their foods contain GE ingredients. Multiple polls show that 85% to 95% of citizens favor labeling.
Currently, food substances are labeled for vitamin, mineral, caloric and fat content; wines containing sulfites warn those allergic. The European Union requires labeling; many countries ban import of GE foods from the US; other countries have or are considering labeling laws and import bans. Unfortunately, US regulatory agencies rely on safety tests done by GE product-producing companies.
Risks of GE foods include: toxicities from new proteins (deadly eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome in consumers of GE tryptophan supplements); altered nutritional value; transfer of antibiotic resistance genes, contributing to antibiotic resistance; increased pesticide use when pests develop resistance to GE food toxins; herbicide-resistant "superweeds"; non-target insects dying from exposure to pesticide-resistant crops, with ripple effects on other species; GE plants and animals interbreeding with and contaminating wild populations; GE plants outcompeting, or driving to extinction, wild varieties; GE plants adversely altering soil quality; decreased agricultural biodiversity; and corporate control of agriculture, with the transmogrification of farmers into "bioserfs."
Labeling of GE foods will prevent dangerous allergic attacks (as occurred in unsuspecting consumers of soybeans modified with Brazil Nut genes); allow vegetarians to avoid plants injected with animal genes; and allow concerned individuals to avoid ingesting milk from cattle injected with recombinant BGH, which increases levels of potentially-carcinogenic IGF-1 in milk.
Labeling will increase public awareness of genetic engineering, allow us freedom to choose what we eat based on individual willingness to confront risk, and ensure a healthy public debate over the merits of genetic modification of foodstuffs.
Board of Directors
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
(This information furnished by Martin Donohoe, MD, FACP, for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.)