Proposition 105: Colorado voters reject mandatory GMO labelling initiative
Fence Post Editorial Staff
Colorado’s initiative to label genetically modified foods failed strongly among voters Nov. 4, with more than 65 percent of the votes rejecting the proposition. At the time of press, 62 of 64 counties were reporting their results.
Oregon had a similar measure on their ballot, which also was rejected by voters.
Colorado’s proposition roused strong opposition among Colorado farmers and ranchers, as well as Greeley’s Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber President Sarah MacQuiddy said the proposition’s defeat came down to flaws in its composition.
“It really boiled down to a couple of issues, that it wasn’t really comprehensive and truly not doing what the proponents were saying it was going to do. So, why go half-way?” MacQuiddy said, referring to exemptions outlined in the proposition.
“We had to go on the side of business to say that if it is going to cost more for our businesses, then quite honestly, it’s not something we can support.”
Don Shawcroft, president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said future discussions on GMO regulations should be handled on the federal level to avoid disadvantaging Colorado producers.
“The major flaw comes back to what we’ve been saying all along, that is was misleading, it was costly and it was unfair. There’s no doubt that the voters made their decision based on what we presented as the facts and they were not refuted,” Shawcroft said.
“There were a lot of false claims and scare tactics that were presented to the voters, but it certainly is evident that they turned those down and that they joined not only Colorado farmers and ranchers, but certainly the editorial boards across the state that urged a ‘no’ vote.”
The campaign supporting Proposition 105, Right to Know Colorado GMO, released a statement after the election on their website, urging supporters not to think of the election’s result as a failure.
“Though the polls did not lean in our favor, we are not discouraged,” it reads. “We did win. We raised our collective voices and stood up for what is right and what is true.”
Larry and Tryna Cooper, co-chairs of Right to Know and the writers of this statement, pointed to the 171,000 signatures collected to get the proposition on the ballot and urged consumers to make choices that would help the corporate financial supporters of Prop 105 lose the war though they won the battle.
Some of the largest supporters of the No on 105 campaign included Monsanto, Kraft, PepsiCo, Coca Cola and Dupont, among others. The fundraising numbers for both sides of the campaign, as accessed on the Secretary of State’s website, show a huge disparity. The No on 105 campaign raised more than $16.5 million, while the Yes on 105 raised less than $900,000.
The National Cooperative Grocers Association released a statement applauding both Colorado and Oregon’s Right to Know campaigns despite the fact that neither state’s GMO labeling proposition passed.
“Americans want GMO foods labeled. Oregon and Colorado exemplify the growing momentum across the U.S. in favor of GMO labeling,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “Shoppers deserve the right to know what’s in the food they buy. Clear and proper labeling of food containing GMOs is key to empowering consumers to make informed purchase decisions.”
In addition to the other statements released by both sides of the campaign, the spokeswoman for the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food said the voters in Colorado had made their message loud and clear.
“American consumers deserve a consistent, national labeling standard based on sound science, not scare tactics.”
Colorado Corn, a supporter of the No on 105 campaign, released a statement as well, thanking voters for supporting farmers by not supporting an initiative they called “unnecessary and poorly written.”
“We can’t thank you enough for listening, and for putting your ‘no’ vote in writing,” said Dave Eckhardt, a fourth-generation Weld County farmer, who serves as president of the Colorado Corn Growers Association. “As a farmer who helps put food on your table, and as a father who feeds his own family, I stress to you that myself and other food producers feel consumers have the right to know what’s in their food. But Proposition 105 certainly wasn’t the way to go about it.” ❖
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