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 firstname.lastname@example.org, with "City Club October 13" in the subject line, by October 10. Please indicate if you are having lunch.