NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Oregon Considers Requiring Genetic-Food Labeling

September 30, 2002

In this fall's elections, Oregon voters will decide whether to require special labeling of foods containing genetically-altered ingredients. The outcome of the vote on what is known as Measure 27 could determine whether similar labels will be required in other states -- and even nationally.

  • About 70 percent of processed food in the U.S. contains genetically-modified corn, soybeans or some other crop.
  • Measure 27 is the first of its kind to go before U.S. voters -- but labeling proponents in seven other states have expressed interest in similar initiatives in their states.
  • Although genetically-altered foods have never been shown to cause health problems, food and crop-biotechnology industries are opposing the measure -- in part because the labels now required in Europe and parts of Asia are "scary sounding," in the words of industry opponents of labeling.
  • The measure is being promoted by organic food companies. If passed, it would likely face court challenges.

Food industry groups say special packaging could be arranged for products going to a single state, but the process would require major costly changes. "They'd have to have an Oregon market and a market for the rest of the United States," said one industry spokeswoman.

Source: Patricia Callahan, "Oregon May Require Labels on Genetic Food," Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2002.


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