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Expect the biotech industry to work furiously against labeling measure

by Craig Winters
Executive director, The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

(Friday, Sept. 27, 2002 -- CropChoice guest commentary) --When passed into law, Measure 27 will require the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the state of Oregon.

We expect the opposition's major advertising blitz financed by Monsanto and the so-called "Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law" to begin any day now. They have already sent out mailings and have launched a web site at: http://www.votenoon27.com

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Monsanto and the coalition are planning to spend $6 million in an effort to defeat Oregon's Measure 27. (Monsanto's headquarters is located in St. Louis, Missouri.) http://www.thecampaign.org/News/sept02t.htm#battles

$6 million is a huge amount of money to spend in a state the size of Oregon for an initiative. Let's put this amount of money in perspective:

Most members of the House of Representatives running for office in the state of Oregon spend far less than $1 million to get elected. According to The Center for Responsive Politics, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden spent $3,447,625 on campaign expenditures between 1997-2002. Oregon Senator Gordon Smith spent $3,737,215 between 1997-2002. http://www.opensecrets.org

The planned expenditure of $6 million by Monsanto and associates is evidence of the importance of this showdown in Oregon over the future of genetically engineered foods.

The effort in Oregon will be a classic David and Goliath battle. It is pitting the special interest power of a few big corporations against the will of the people. The people will win unless the propaganda from the other side works. Their strategy is to try to convince Oregon voters that the price of their foods will go up if Measure 27 is passed into law. They also argue that genetically engineered foods are safe and therefore need no special labeling.

There is an impressive group of people working on our side to counter the misinformation campaign that is coming from Monsanto and their coalition. The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods has teamed up with Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Organic Consumers Association and other organizations to offer support to Oregon Concerned Citizens for Safe Foods, the political action committee that spearheaded Measure 27.

The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods designed the web site for Oregon Concerned Citizens for Safe Foods at http://www.labelgefoods.com.

The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods (http://www.thecampaign.orgis also creating another web site designed to counter the propaganda that the "Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law" is perpetrating on the Oregon voters. We expect to have this special web site launched by next week.

Posted below are two editorials from Oregon newspapers regarding Measure 27.

The first editorial is from The Oregonian opposing Measure 27. The Oregonian is a conservative newspaper and their opposition to Measure 27 is not a big surprise. When you read the lengthy Oregonian editorial, you will notice it sounds like it was written by someone from the biotech industry. It states that genetically engineered is "precise" and that "There's no evidence that the resulting foods are harmful."

If you want to communicate with the editorial staff of The Oregonian, their contact information is listed at the bottom of the editorial.

The second editorial is from the Corvallis Gazette-Times. This editorial supports passage of Measure 27 and is titled "Food label measure a no-brainer!" The article states, "We're looking forward to the campaign against Measure 27 because we can't see an ethical basis for not supporting such common-sense legislation. We only wish the federal Food and Drug Administration had done its job and made this an industry requirement before consumers had to take the initiative."

Our sentiments exactly! Bravo!

Corvallis is the home of Oregon State University, an institution that receives considerable money for agricultural biotech research. So this endorsement is significant and will hopefully influence some other newspapers in the state as they determine whether to support or oppose Measure 27.

Thanks again for supporting our efforts in Oregon. A successful outcome will have a huge impact in moving forward the federal labeling legislation.

Links to the two editorials