It’s Getting Hot Up North

Rick North Facebook

(Editor's note: Today, we welcome Rick North as a new contributor to BlueOregon. Rick's a longtime activist for health care and safe food. Welcome aboard, Rick!)

It’s been a warm October in Oregon, but it’s getting downright hot in Washington.

I-522, the initiative requiring labels for most food produced with GMO’s, is probably the nation’s most-watched initiative for this November. It’s likely the most expensive too – already, the opposition has reported $17.2 million in donations and the supporters $6 million.

Ads aimed at southwest Washington voters are spilling over into Oregon. For weeks, viewers of Portland TV stations have seen a distinguished looking gentleman opposing the measure because there are too many foods involved with genetic engineering that aren’t going to be labeled. Other statements from the No campaign criticize it because it goes too far. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t . . .

This isn’t the only fuzzy reasoning from the No side. The labels on GMO food would say “Partially produced with genetic engineering.” Spokeswoman Dana Bieber, quoted in a recent Oregonian article, complained that the label “sounds a little ominous, doesn’t it?” That’s an interesting comment from an industry that has pumped millions of PR dollars trying to convince us that GMO’s are safe, good for the environment, produce higher yields and will help solve world hunger. If they’re so wonderful, wouldn’t Monsanto and their friends want to proclaim the good news through the labels?

Then this from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which just released figures from individual corporations on how much they were giving to the No campaign “in the spirit of continuing cooperation.” Some cooperation. Companies like Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, Nestle, Kellogg’s, Hershey and Campbell Soup (New slogan – Umm, Umm, genetically engineered!) had contributed to a secret fund they set up to defeat the initiative. The only reason GMA divulged the information was because Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson sued them.

I can understand voters being somewhat confused on the labeling vote after hearing authority figures on both sides, especially on an issue that has a lot of science difficult to decipher. That’s when most people look to others they trust for guidance.

Here’s a man and an organization you can trust – Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Michael for ten years. He’s not only brilliant and articulate, he’s also ruthlessly honest. These qualities have enabled him to become one of the world’s major advisors for both organizations and governments in evaluating scientific arguments on GMO’s. They’re also why biotech industry representatives often decline to debate him in open forums.

Dr. Hansen and Consumers Union have declared publicly in favor of GMO food labeling and I-522. To see the TV ad, go to

And while you’re at it, please make a donation to the campaign. Remember, if Washington wins this, we can expect that many of these same GMO foods will be labeled in Oregon. Moreover, it would be a major boost to numerous other states across the country, including Oregon, which are also pursuing labeling through initiatives or legislative actions. We all have the right to know what’s in our food.

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