People typically steer clear of political and religious topics because they know both will instantly kill a friendly environment. Coloradans may be stirring the political talks soon because as reported yesterday, in less than two months they can cast their vote on Proposition 105, a.k.a. “Right To Know Colorado,” for genetically modified organism labeling. Who is the leader in the biotechnology? Monsanto is the producer of GMO's in the world and has only been engineering crops since the 1980s.
So what is a GMO? According to Organic Consumers Association, a genetic modification takes certain genes from one species and puts their DNA into another species. Tammi DeVille Merrell, campaign manager for “Right To Know Colorado,” said if passed, Proposition 105 would mandate that each product containing GMOs would require “a statement clearly visible on the package that states, -- Produced with Genetic Engineering.”
How many Coloradan voters care about reading another label term? So far, more than 120,000 of them. If the signatures needed to get the initiative to the ballot is any indication of what Coloradans want, then it looks promising that Prop 105 will pass. The R2K initiative surpassed the state required signatures - 86,105 - by more than 40,000 extra valid signatures. Why are so many people on board with GMO labeling?
“No long-term epidemiological studies in humans have been carried out to determine whether there are any health effects associated with GM food consumption,” Merrell, sent in an email to Examiner.com “Without labeling, it’s not possible for doctors or medical scientists to track potential harm.”
Colorado isn’t the first state to attempt GMO labeling on food products. Vermont was the first to pass a law this year, through their legislative process. In fact, The Washington Post reported that Vermont was so proactive that their bill included $1.5 million in legal funds, because they anticipated corporate push back from anti-GMO label groups. Vermont was correct, because one month after the law passed, the state was sued by “the associations representing grocery manufacturers, the snack food industry, dairy industry and manufacturing industry."
When asked if Colorado faced similar legal struggles, DeVille said, "We are not certain. Vermont was passed through their legislature, while Colorado is on the ballot through an initiative created by citizens and if it becomes law it will also be done by the citizens.”
USA Today reported that the United States leads the world in genetically modified plantings, while 26 countries now ban GMOs. Rather than an outright ban of GMOs, the Colorado initiative seeks freedom of choice for consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has minimal regulatory oversight. Currently the FDA states that manufacturers can label their products that use GMOs on a voluntary basis and must follow the label guidelines. The FDA so far has reviewed 95 products that are genetically modified: “30 submissions on corn, 15 on cotton, 12 each on canola and soybean, and 24 on all other crops including alfalfa, cantaloupe, creeping bentgrass, flax, papaya, plum, potato, raddichio, squash, sugar beet, tomato, and wheat.”
Supporters of this initiative are hoping it will give Coloradans more freedom to make an informed decision about the products they are feeding their families. While Vermont is still defending their legislation in court, Washington last year tried to pass a similar bill, and more than $30 million was spent to defeat GMO labeling, according to The Washington Post. “We don’t know what they are trying to hide,” DeVille said.