Edited by Brittany Clingen
Washington state's Initiative 522 was one of the most important and prominent measures of 2013. The measure, which sought to mandate the labeling of certain foods that were either made with or contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs), was defeated, but not before over $30 million was poured into the support and opposition campaigns, making it the most expensive measure in the state's history. However, I-522's defeat has not deterred proponents of mandatory GMO labeling, and petition drives are occurring in Colorado and Oregon in an attempt to place GMO measures on the states' 2014 ballots.
52 measures for 2014
Oregon's GMO initiative was given the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures after the Oregon Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the measure's ballot title. Scott Bates, director of GMO Free Oregon - the group sponsoring the initiative - said his group will begin gathering signatures shortly; supporters must collect at least 87,213 valid signatures by July 3, 2014 in order to land the measure on the 2014 ballot. However, Bates said, "We are still absorbing the lessons from [the Washington defeat]. We're having a gut check at the moment, but we're planning on moving forward." Oregon's GMO measure was largely modeled off of Washington's I-522, so in order to learn from their predecessors' mistakes, supporters of Oregon's measure are crafting an alternative GMO initiative that "makes some changes aimed at blunting some of the charges leveled at the Washington initiative by the food and biotechnology industries."
Bates said the second initiative is part of an effort to reassure donors who are "spooked" after I-522's defeat. If GMO Free Oregon does decide to move on a second measure, they will have to go through the same process regarding the measure's wording and title as that of the first. This would result in less time for them to gather the required number of signatures. Bates has not committed to a particular plan of attack as of yet, though he is determined to get whichever measures move forward on the 2014 ballot, as voter turnout is higher during even-numbered election years.
Colorado's GMO measure, which is being sponsored by the group Colorado Right to Know, will have its language reviewed by the state on Wednesday, December 11, 2013, and then receive a title. Once this process is complete, supporters can begin collecting the 86,105 valid signatures required by August 4, 2014. The Colorado measure, as it is currently written, allows for some exceptions regarding what products must be labeled, with chewing gum, alcohol and pet food among them. If history is any indication, both measures will face an uphill battle even if they do make it on to the ballot, as GMO measures have not fared well when put to a public vote. Back in 2002, Oregon attempted a GMO labeling initiative, but it was decidedly rejected by a margin of 70.5 to 29.5 percent. In November 2012, exactly one year before the defeat of I-522, California voters rejected Proposition 37, a GMO labeling measure which I-522 was subsequently modeled after. Like I-522, millions of dollars were funneled into the opposition campaign by large corporations like Monsanto and Pepsico. If one or both of the current GMO measures appear on 2014 ballots, a multimillion dollar food fight is all but guaranteed.
| 2014 Count
|| 52 measures
|| Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming