Contentious GMO labeling measure the last initiative certified in Oregon
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Though Oregon's ballot initiatives may be few this November, there will be no shortage of discussion about them as an initiative requiring labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) fills the final slot on the November 4 ballot. The final potential initiative was certified on Wednesday by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, bringing the total number of ballot measures for Oregon's 2014 ballot to seven. If approved, the measure would mandate the labeling of certain foodstuffs that were produced with or contain GMOs. Initiative efforts to require GMO labeling were attempted in at least two other states this year: Arizona and Colorado. The Arizona attempt did not make the ballot. The potential Colorado measure has until August 6 to submit signatures to make the ballot.
This year will not be the first time direct democracy has been used in the battle over GMO labeling. California and Washington initiatives on mandatory labeling were defeated in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Both measures saw opposition fundraising and spending vastly exceed that of supporters. This year's measure in Oregon can be expected to attract similarly high contribution levels and campaign spending, as Oregon GMO Right to Know has already raised nearly $1.3 million in support of the measure. No opponents have registered with the secretary of state, yet, though Oregonians for Food & Shelter has spoken out against the initiative. Similarly, local ballot measures on GMOs have been a growing trend.
In total, Oregonians will have the opportunity to vote on two legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, three initiated state statutes, one initiated constitutional amendment and one veto referendum this November. GMOs will not be the only measure receiving extra attention this year, with other ballot measures including equal rights for women, four-year driver licenses without proof of legal residence and marijuana legalization. Despite there being fewer measures than the average 12 per year since 1996, voters face several hefty ballot issues.
- Maui County Genetically Modified Organism Moratorium Initiative (November 2014)
- Lane County Genetically Modified Organism Ban (2014)
- Humboldt County "Genetic Contamination Prevention Ordinance" GMO Ban Initiative, Measure P (November 2014)
- Benton County Genetically Modified Organism Ban (2014)
- Josephine County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 17-58 (May 2014)
- Jackson County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119 (May 2014)
- Washington Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Measure, Initiative 522 (2013)
- California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)
- Legalized marijuana initiative on Oregon ballot, again, July 23, 2014
- Open, top-two primaries make the Oregon ballot, July 18, 2014
- Few initiatives for Oregon, but none for Arizona, July 3, 2014