| PORTLAND, Ore., July 24
PORTLAND, Ore., July 24 An Oregon citizens'
initiative that would require labeling of foods made with
genetically modified ingredients has garnered more than enough
signatures to gain a spot on the state's November ballot, a
state government spokesman said on Thursday.
"It cleared easily," said Tony Green, a spokesman for the
Oregon Secretary of State's Office.
Advocates collected 118,780 valid signatures, far exceeding
the 87,213 needed to qualify for the ballot, according to the
state certified count.
The initiative, sponsored by Oregon Right to Know, would
mandate labels on raw or packaged foods that include any
genetically engineered ingredients, beginning in 2016. It would
not apply to food served in restaurants or to animal feed.
An opposing group called Oregonians for Food and Shelter,
which advocates for the pesticide, fertilizer and biotech
industries, said the initiative would be "costly and
Similar arguments - backed by millions of dollars in ad
spending - have helped beat back similar labeling measures in
Washington and California in recent years. Measures to label
GMOs in those states appeared at first to have wide public
support, but ultimately lost by narrow margins.
Oregon is only one of many states wrestling with the hotly
contested issue of GMO labeling.
Advocates of labeling say consumers deserve to know if the
food they eat are made with gene-altered corn, soybeans, sugar
beets and other biotech crops. Currently, labeling of such foods
Most of the biotech crops on the market have been
genetically altered to repel pests or tolerate direct spraying
of herbicides. Those crops are used in a vast array of food
The companies that develop them say the crops are safe, and
are backed by many scientific studies. But critics of GMO crops
cite studies showing links to human and animal health problems,
and environmental concerns.
Oregon activists last sought to label GMOs in 2002, in a
measure that was defeated at the ballot box. In May, voters in
two small Oregon counties approved controversial ballot measures
to ban cultivation of genetically engineered crops within their
Vermont, Maine and Connecticut have all passed GMO label
laws, but none has yet gone into effect. A Colorado group is
also seeking to get the issue on the ballot in that state in
(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood in Portland; Editing by Carey
Gillam in Kansas City and Sandra Maler)