As I strolled through downtown Ashland, Oregon, last week, I was struck by how many “Yes on 92” signs and stickers I saw. There is clear, visible support from businesses and individuals for the measure to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.
And as the measure heads for a vote on November 4, industrial agriculture groups are pulling out all the stops to keep this ballot initiative from winning. Even so, there is an incredible groundswell of support for labeling GE food in Oregon and beyond. Things are looking hopeful!
After narrow defeats in California and Washington, the effort to label GE foods — also called GMOs — could win this time. And that’s because, just like a majority of folks in those states and around the country, Oregon voters want to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown. And support for Measure 92 is evident across the political spectrum, with both Republican and Democratic candidates for Oregon governor backing it.
Industry spin in high gear
Industrial agriculture groups — especially three of the world’s largest pesticide and genetically engineered seed corporations — are spouting the same tired myths around costs, exemptions and farmer impacts. And these myths are getting quite a bit of play in statewide media markets, funded by money from Monsanto, Dow and DuPont Pioneer among others. Collectively, these three pesticide/biotech corporations have dumped more than $4 million into the race in an effort to spin the facts.
As I recently noted, the same fight is playing out in Colorado (as it did in California and Washington in previous years).
But new research from the Consumers Union cuts through the noise, showing that GE labeling will cost consumers next to nothing. And USDA’s recent news of Monsanto’s genetically engineered "rogue" wheat popping up in fields where it shouldn't be highlights the fact that GE crops pose an unreasonable risk to farmers by contaminating their crops and limiting exports. You can't put a GE genie back in the bottle.
Oregon polls show that Measure 92 is supported by more than a winning majority of voters, but the numbers will shift as the election draws closer. But with yesterday's news of EPA greenlighting Dow’s 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy, there’s more reason than ever to support transparency in our food system — and to invest in safe, healthy and resilient farming practices.