JWA Blog

Ballot Measure 92 - GMO Labeling Bill

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ballot measure 92 would require the labeling of foods containing GMOs. Dictionary.com defines it as “an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there.”


You know, I’m getting older and along with that come things that I don’t know about and sometimes, quite honestly, I don’t care about. Things like rap or hip hop (I like rock n’ roll), multi-tasking (I have enough trouble doing one thing at a time well), and being gluten free (apologies to those who suffer from celiac disease). The list goes on and on. There are, however, some advancements that I do approve of. Advancements in medicine for one (I appreciate that because I’m getting older). How about cars today? Much more advanced than the ’55 Chevy that was my first car. Technology today is incredible. I wouldn’t be able to barge into your life every week without it.


  • Genetic modification is another of those advancements. 
  • Thousands of years ago gathers and then farmers realized that if they saved seeds and crossed bred (hybridized) them they could produce desired characteristics. A better ear of corn or a tastier tomato. This process has evolved over the years to bring us the kind of food we enjoy today. Science in that area continues to move forward… 
  • A few years ago there was a program in my Rotary club presented by a professor from Oregon State University. Go Beavers! Sorry. Anyway, she was speaking about the research work OSU was doing in the area of bio-engineering. It was about making plants drought resistant, pest resistant and generally more tolerant so that vegetable yield was higher. That corn is better and the tomatoes are very tasty. As I left that day I thought “Wow, this is amazing.” 
  • This new technology could literally change the world. Known as the world’s breadbasket, America could grow more food, in less space, with less water and feed tens of millions of people around the world more nutritious food. 
  • Since then, as research in science progressed, some skeptics of bio-engineering have begun to question the science behind bio-technology. What? Have we been duped? 
  • Genetic modification of some of those food plants are now referred to as GMO. 
  • If you have the time and the inclination, you can go on the web and find incredible amounts of information that is pro and con on GMOs written by everyone from bloggers (such as yours truly) to eminent scientists and researchers from universities all over the world. You don’t have the time….trust me. 
  • Last spring, in the primary election, voters in Jackson County, Oregon voted to ban the growing of any GMO plants in their county. And they did it by a wide margin! Did voters research the science behind GMOs? Probably not, but that isn’t the point. Organic farmers were worried that crops that were genetically modified would contaminate their crops. They convinced a majority of voters they could be damaged economically. 
  • So, here we are….Oregonians are being asked to decide whether or not foods containing any GMO should be labeled. Many of the rest of the countries in the world are required label their foods - 64 to be exact. Some health organizations have said there may be some questions about the long term effects to our health if we eat foods with GMOs in them.



This is where I want to make a snide remark about obesity and all the foods we shouldn’t be eating but we do. Or at least some of us.


  • From a pure promotional perspective those manufacturers producing GMO free foods have the ability to label those products “GMO free” , a great marketing tool.  
  • The burden will be put on food producers to label all the food they will be selling in Oregon. Or will it? Meat and dairy products from animals raised and fed with GMO food are exempted. What else is exempt from this law, if passed? This is where you get to read your voter’s pamphlet and find out for yourself. 
  • How much more will it cost for food in Oregon if we’re the only ones to have the food labeled? That is unknown. What other states require labeling, you ask. So far, just Vermont. They passed the labeling law this past May and it goes into effect in July 2016. Recently, both California and Washington voters rejected labeling proposals.


Break out that voter’s pamphlet and get to work! Be sure to read all the letters from those that support and those that oppose the bill. And most of all, don’t forget to vote. By now you should have the ballots.


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