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Industry Lies on GE Foods Labeling
Initiative in Oregon

Propaganda Against Mandatory GE Foods Labeling Initiative in Oregon
Sept. 2002

Web note: Among the numerous lies printed below, one of the most blatant is
that the Oregon Labeling Initiative would require labeling of genetically
engineered (GE) products in restaurants. It would not. Another is that the
implementation of the law, similar to laws already in force in Europe and
Japan, would be costly to companies and to consumers, and would raise the
price of foods. Almost no whole foods (fruits, vegetables, grains) are
currently GE and sold as such. Rather GE ingredients (rBGH, GE soy, corn,
canola, cottonseed oil) are widespread in dairy products and processed
foods, all of which are already sold in containers, containers or packages
with labels on them. Companies choosing to sell GE-tainted products (of
course most would choose to reformulate their products or switch to new
suppliers) would simply have to add a sentence or phrase to their labels the
next time they did a press run.

From the Biotech/Agribusness Front Group Called "No on 27: The Costly
Labeling Law"

Measure 27 is another attempt to push an extreme agenda.

Once again, special interest groups are trying to use Oregon's ballot
measure process to push their own extreme political agenda. This time, it's
Measure 27 on the fall 2002 state ballot. Measure 27 would force farmers,
grocers, restaurants - and all other businesses, public agencies and
non-profit groups that produce, sell or serve food or beverages - to put
special warning labels on thousands of products that aren't 100% "organic."
This measure is being promoted by a small group of organic food companies
that would benefit financially if consumers can be scared into buying their
products.

Measure 27 would create a complex, confusing and misleading labeling scheme.
Under federal law, products labeled as "organic" must be produced without
the use of modern pesticides or biotechnology. This gives consumers who
prefer to buy organic foods a simple, reliable way to identify them. Measure
27 would create a totally different food labeling scheme that would exist
only in Oregon. It would require all foods made or sold in Oregon to have
special labels that say "Genetically Engineered" if they are produced with
any modern biotech process or ingredient - even if those products don't
actually contain any genetically engineered ingredients. It would also
require complex scientific jargon listing the biological names and purposes
of any biotech ingredients in a product. Under Measure 27's broad, badly
written provisions, the majority of common food products made or sold in
Oregon would be required to have these special labels - even though the
labels would be misleading and unnecessarily alarming, and wouldn't provide
consumers with any useful information.

Measure 27 conflicts with scientific facts and our national policy.
The science of biotechnology is now widely used to improve the yield and
quality of many food products, and to reduce the need for pesticides by
creating pest-resistant crops. Today, the majority of food products sold in
the U.S. are produced with a crop, ingredient or process that involves
biotechnology. These products are strictly regulated to assure their safety
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hundreds of studies have found
that foods produced with the benefit of modern biotechnology are just as
safe as those produced with older technologies. And, the use of
biotechnology for food production is supported by many leading health
organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Dietetic
Association, Institute of Food Technologists and World Health Organization.
The promoters of Measure 27 disagree with our national policy and the
scientific consensus. So, they're using Oregon's ballot measure process to
push their anti-biotech agenda - at the expense of Oregon taxpayers,
consumers and businesses.

Measure 27's labeling regulations are overly broad, extreme and absurd.
According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Measure 27's labeling
requirements would apply to an estimated 500,000 food and beverage products
and restaurant menu items. These labels would provide unreliable, useless
information that would unnecessarily confuse, mislead and alarm consumers.
For example, the cheesemaking process requires a "curdling" enzyme. The
traditional enzyme that cheesemakers used was extracted from the stomachs of
baby calves. Today, most cheese products are processed with an alternative
biotech enzyme, which is more humane and equally safe. This enzyme is used
in the cheesemaking process worldwide, and it is not in the final cheese
products. However, under Measure 27, cheese products processed with this
enzyme would have to have special "warning" labels.

Measure 27 would create more government bureaucracy and red tape - costing
taxpayers millions.

Measure 27 would require the Oregon Department of Agriculture to enforce its
complicated labeling regulations on all food and beverage products,
regardless of where they are produced - essentially making it the "biotech
police force" for the world's food industry. The Department has estimated
that Measure 27 would require it to hire over 60 additional staff members
and conduct over 100,000 inspections, audits and lab tests each year. That
would more than double the Department's current General Fund Budget and cost
Oregon taxpayers over $118 million over the next 10 years - making our
state's overall budget problems even worse and taking away vitally needed
funds from education and other important public services.

Measure 27 would cost Oregon residents millions more in higher food prices.

Measure 27 would force farmers, grocers, restaurants - and anyone else who
produces, sells or serves food or beverages - to conduct special record
keeping to determine and track the origin of every product and ingredient
they use or sell. It would also require them to print and apply special
labels on the products they make or sell in Oregon. The staff time and costs
involved would be passed along to Oregon consumers through higher prices. A
recent study estimated that the additional overhead and taxpayer costs
created by Measure 27 would end up costing an average Oregon family about
$550 each year.

Measure 27 would unfairly hurt Oregon farmers, businesses and non-profit
organizations.

If Measure 27 passes, family farmers and Oregon food and beverage companies
would be forced to put the measure's alarming labels on their products
whether they're sold here or shipped to other states - even though no other
state requires it. This would put Oregon businesses at a serious competitive
disadvantage while increasing their production expenses - costing them
potentially tens of millions of dollars in lost sales and higher overhead.
In addition, Oregon farmers, grocers, restaurants, schools, non-profit
groups - and anyone else who makes, sells or serves food or beverages -
would be subject to absurdly harsh penalties if they use the wrong label or
labeling language. Those penalties would include fines of up to $5,000 and
up to six months in jail!

You can help defeat Measure 27 by joining our coalition.

A statewide coalition, called the Coalition Against the Co$tly Labeling Law,
has been formed to mount a campaign to defeat Measure 27. Our members
include family farmers and farm groups, grocers and restaurants, taxpayer
and consumer advocates, food and beverage companies, food safety experts,
and other concerned citizens, businesses and organizations throughout the
state. You can help by becoming a member. Joining will cost you nothing, but
it will help our campaign by showing that people from all walks of life
oppose Measure 27.

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