We reported yesterday that voters in the US state of Oregon had voiced a resounding 'no' to Measure 27, an initiative that would have required labels on food containing genetically engineered material. Clearly a sensitive issue, the report provoked a mixed response from our readers.
Pat McCormick, spokesman for the Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law, the key pressure group against the vote and funded with more than $5million, held the following view.
"Yourlong-distance view was reflected in the article's summary: 'In a country celebrated for the idolatry of its consumers, there is a certainirony that the outcome of the Measure 27 vote appears to reflect the powerof the dollar, and not the consumer.'
Oregon voters would greatly resent the arrogant assertion that their votesare premised on which side spends more money."
McCormick continued: "They (the voters) also viewed the labelling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to satisfythe desires of those who want to avoid such foods as impractical, especiallyin light of new US Department of Agriculture organic food labelling standardsthat reliably identify foods produced without genetically engineeredingredients. Editorial writers throughout Oregon opposed the initiative andagreed that organic labelling provided consumers the choice backers ofMeasure 27 argued they needed."
Is organic labelling the same issue as the labelling of genetically modified foods? Arguably one of the key problems surrounding genetically modified foods is the constant polarisation of organic versus genetically modified foods. Although, clearly, the two issues frequently rub shoulders because they are both linked, for right or wrong, with food safety, this is perhaps a less than sound basis for argumentation.
While McCormick stressed that Oregon voters would 'resent the arrogant assertion that their votesare premised on which side spends more money', we received the following letter from a farmer in Oregon. "The Oregon vote could well have gone the other way if the proponentsweren't so hugely outspent by out of state food industry interests. Iown an Oregon pet food company and voted in favour of having GM modifiedfoods be so noted on the lable. I hope to vote on it again as I am surethat the issue will be revisited." Food for thought from F. L. Skip Cockerum of the Oregon Feeder Insects corporation.