Citizens' Initiative Review

Review of MEASURE 92

Requires food manufacturers, retailers to label "genetically engineered" foods as such; state, citizens may enforce

Findings

Key Findings

  • Labeling genetically engineered foods would provide information to let Oregonians make more informed buying decisions and this would offer them more control and transparency over their food purchasing decisions.
  • The labeling requirements do not apply to alcoholic beverages, or prepared restaurant food because they are currently outside the food labeling system laws.
  • Regardless of M92, consumers seeking GMO-free food can purchase items labeled non-GMO or organic.
  • 64 countries, including most of Europe, Australia and Japan, already require labeling of genetically engineered foods and when those countries switched to requiring labeling food prices did not go up.
  • The costs of actual labeling are a tiny fraction of the costs of compliance and certification. The bulk of private costs arise in segregation of products along the supply chain.
  • Under M92, if passed, meat and dairy products from animals that have been raised and fed with genetically engineered feed and grain will not be labeled GE.
  • Labels required by Measure 92 would NOT tell consumers which ingredients in a packaged food product are GMOs, or what percentage of the product is GMO ingredients.
  • If we are going to sell GMO salmon that contain genes from an eel-like organism (something the FDA may soon approve), or other engineered fish or meat now in development, we should label them.
  • Importantly, these costs will be borne by firms and consumers for both GM and non-GM foods as labeling foods as non-GM will require oversight costs.
  • U.S. food producers already label their GMO foods in 64 countries.

Argument in Favor

We, 9 members of the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review, support Measure 92 for the following reasons:

  • M92 would offer Oregonians more control and transparency over our food purchasing decisions and does not act as a warning or ban.
  • Labeling genetically engineered crops could benefit Oregon family farmers that grow traditional crops by increasing public demand for crops that are not genetically engineered.
  • U.S. food producers already label their GMO food in 64 countries, including Australia, Japan, and most of Europe.
  • There is mounting scientific evidence that the widespread use of genetically engineered crops designed to survive large amounts of herbicide spraying is leading to a large increase in the use of these chemicals.
  • A national consumer organization and a regional medical organization have stated that there are still questions about the long-term health effects of genetically engineered crops.

A minority of panelists favored this position.

Argument in Opposition

We, 11 members of the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review, oppose Measure 92 for the following reasons:

  • Under M92, if passed, meat and dairy products from animals that have been raised and fed with genetically engineered feed and grain will not be labeled GM.
  • The costs of actual labeling are a tiny fraction of the costs of compliance and certification.
  • Labels required by Measure 92 would NOT tell consumers which ingredients in a packaged food product are GMOs, or what percentage of the product is GMO ingredients.
  • Existing food labels already give consumers a more reliable way to choose foods without GE ingredients if that is what they prefer, including “organic” and “non-GMO” labels. Measure 92 conflicts with these national labeling standards.
  • Thousands of food products would have to be labeled as “genetically engineered” – even if they’re not. Thousands of other food products would be exempt from being labeled – even when they do contain or are produced with GMOs.

A majority of panelists favored this position.

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