Decision clears way for statewide petition drive
FRISCO — Coloradans will likely have a chance to vote on new labeling requirements for genetically modified foods in November, after the Colorado Supreme Court this week rejected a challenge to the proposed ballot initiative.
The court’s decision will enable backers to start gathering the signatures needed to add the measure to the ballot.
“We are pleased that the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the GMO labeling ballot title, and we look forward to bringing a GMO labeling initiative before the voters of Colorado this fall,” said Right to Know Colorado organizer Larry Cooper.
In giving a green light to the ballot title, the Colorado Supreme Court rejected a challenge from mainstream biotech, pesticide and grocery interests. The Right to Know Colorado campaign can now begin circulating petitions to the required 86,105 signatures needed to get the initiative on the ballot. The signatures have to be submitted by early August, according to Rick Ridder, of Denver-based RBI Strategies and Research.
The campaign plans to partner with local farmers, farmers markets, moms, faith-based organizations, natural, organic and non-GMO food retailers, and other health, sustainability and consumer advocacy organizations to gather the signatures needed.
“Coloradans have the right to know what is in their food, and to make purchasing decisions for their families based on knowing whether their foods are genetically engineered, and we believe they will have that opportunity after November,” said Larry Cooper, one of the proponents of the Right to Know Colorado initiative.
Voter approval of the measure would instantly reverse the balance of power for consumers, who currently have little choice when it comes to buying GMO foods. Without federal labeling requirements and a laiseez-faire regulatory climate, it’s estimated that more than 80 percentof conventional processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients, primarily from GMO corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets and other GMO crops.
Some polling suggests that more than 90 percent of consumers support some form of GMO labeling — especially with emerging research showing their may be some health risks associated with consumption of some GMO foods.
More than 64 other countries require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered or GMO foods. Colorado joins more than two dozen other states, including Oregon, Arizona, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, in calling for GMO labeling legislation.
The grassroots campaign is built on the premise that consumers have a basic right to know what is in their food. The campaign gives Coloradans the opportunity to make informed decisions about their diet, health, and general lifestyle.
Food labels list and describe nearly every detailed component of the food product, from the caloric values and processing information, to the fat and protein content and the known allergens.
The language of the ballot question:
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning labeling of genetically modified food; and, in connection therewith, requiring food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, “Produced With Genetic Engineering” starting on July 1, 2016; exempting some foods including but not limited to food from animals that are not genetically modified but have been fed or injected with genetically modified food or drugs, certain food that is not packaged for retail sale and is intended for immediate human consumption, alcoholic beverages, food for animals, and medically prescribed food; requiring the Colorado department of public health and environment to regulate the labeling of genetically modified food; and specifying that no private right of action is created for failure to conform to the labeling requirements?
And the Twitter storm: