GMOs in Food: Will Oregon Follow Vermont’s Lead?

Last April, Vermont became the first state to pass a law requiring
the labeling of foods that contain ingredients made through genetic
engineering. Similar laws have been passed in Maine and Connecticut (implementation
is contingent on adoption by the other New England states) but narrowly failed in
public referenda in California and Washington. Oregon voters defeated a
proposal to label such foods in 2002.
On November 4, Oregon voters could follow Vermont’s lead if
they pass Measure 92 on the statewide referendum ballot. The measure would
require the labeling of genetically engineered food that contains 0.9 percent
or greater of genetically engineered material. It would exclude the labeling of
alcohol, food served in restaurants and animal products from animals fed
genetically engineered feed.
For retailers of raw foods produced through genetic
engineering, the proposal would require a label, “Genetically Engineered,” to
be affixed to packaging, shelves or display bins. Suppliers would have to label
shipping containers. Processed foods made with at least one genetically
engineered ingredient would carry a label, “Produced with Genetic Engineering”
or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”
On Oct. 13, the Corvallis City Club will give the public a
chance to hear about the science of genetic engineering and the economics, pros
and cons of labeling. Speaking on the science will be Steve Strauss,
distinguished professor of forest biotechnology at Oregon State University.
Economist Bill Jaeger with OSU’s Department of Applied Economics will review the
economic consequences of a labeling requirement.
Speaking for the Yes on 92 organization will be Ray Seidler.
He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology, taught at Oregon State for
16 years and was senior research scientist and GMO biosafety team leader for
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 17 years. He is now retired.
Colin Cochran will be the spokesperson for the No on 92 Coalition. A principal in Hilltop Public Solutions, he has worked in government
affairs, communications and grassroots outreach on a variety of issues
throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The meeting is open to the public. City Club meets in
the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting
will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is
free. Lunch catered by the Delicias Valley Cafe is $10 for members, $12 for
non-members. To register, send e-mail to, with
“City Club October 13” in the subject line, by October 10. Please
indicate if you are having lunch.

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