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Colorado supporters for GMO labeling initiative gather 165,995 signatures

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Author and activist Robyn O’Brien calls labeling genetically modified organisms in food a human rights issue for everyone. It also is an economic opportunity for farmers and food manufacturers in Colorado and throughout the United States, she told a crowd at a recent rally on the west steps of the Colorado capitol in Denver.

“Manufacturers are already labeling GMOs on goods they export in other parts of the world,” O’Brien told the group. “They should be placing the same value on the lives of Americans.”

The group Right to Know Colorado was rallying in support of ballot initiative 48, after gathering 165,995 signatures to put the matter on the ballot statewide on Nov. 4, 2014. They presented the signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State in August. Supporters needed 86,105 to get on the ballot.

O’Brien is the author of the best seller, “The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply – and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself.” She put on her hat as a former financial and food industry analyst to discuss the economic benefits of labeling.

American exporters must declare GMO content in 64 countries. They already change the label to accommodate a particular nation’s legal requirements, O’Brien said.

Labeling would bring transparency and accountability to American products, she said. It would also open doors to American products here in the United States. For example, to get the organic beef their customers demand, Colorado-based Chipotle must go to Australia. The United States is outsourcing countries like China and Romania to meet the exploding needs of the natural food marketplace. “The demand for clean food isn’t a fad,” O’Brien said.

Labeling also would benefit consumers who wish to buy foods containing GMOs, noted initiative supporter Tryna Cooper. “This is about liberty,” she said. “This is about our rights.”

If approved, the change would go into effect on July 1, 2016. The law would exclude animals that haven’t themselves been genetically modified but have been injected or fed genetically modified food or drugs. Also excluded would be food intended for immediate human consumption, alcoholic beverages, food for animals and medically prescribed food. The state health department would be charged with regulating the labeling of genetically modified food, which would be labeled, “produced with genetic engineering.”