Business Strategies

GMO Labeling on Ballots in Colorado, Oregon

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Oct 07, 2014

Proposals to require the labeling of genetically modified foods will be on the November ballots in both Oregon and Colorado, following the certification of petition signatures in recent weeks.

In Colorado, petitions for Proposition 105 got nearly 50 percent more signatures than the 86,105 needed to qualify for the 2014 ballot.

Initiative 44 in Oregon got 118,780 signatures, well above the 87,213 required. If passed, the law would require all food produced with genetically engineered ingredients to include the words "Genetically Engineered" on the front or back of packages. Produce will have to carry a similar label or sign near its placement in the store. The law would take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Both states expect large advertising expenditures for and mostly against the propositions. Most food & beverage processor associations, with the exception of those promoting organic or natural foods, are opposed to GMO labeling.

GMO labeling initiatives failed two years ago in both California and Washington. But Vermont early this year became the first state in the nation to enact labeling requirements, doing so legislatively rather than through a voter initiative. When legislators crafted the law, they also created a $1.5 million legal defense fund to pay for expected legal challenges, which are under way.