Sunday, October 12, 2014

Oregonians: please consider supporting measure 92 to label genetically engineered foods!

So much has been going on on the farm lately, and I promise I will post about that soon! In the meantime, I wanted to reprint here the text of an email that I sent out to friends of the farm tonight. It's an issue that is important to me, so I wanted to include it here on my blog. It went like this:

Hello friends! I just wanted to write to you about something that's been on my mind a lot lately, and that's Measure 92. This measure would require the labeling of genetically engineered (also known as GE or GMO) foods in Oregon. I learned today that television ads have depicted farmers as being opposed to the measure, and that inspired me to write you this email, because that is absolutely not true. Just like the rest of society, farmers fall all over the spectrum on supporting or opposing this initiative. I strongly support it, and here are a few reasons why:
  • First and foremost, I believe we all have the right to know what is in our food! It's important to remember that this is NOT a referendum on whether GE crops should be grown in Oregon, or whether they are "right" or "wrong." This is simply a labeling law, which will give us, the consumers, more information about the food we are eating. We already require labeling of many ingredients and attributes of our food. This would add one more piece of information to help people make their own choices.
  • Passing this legislation will NOT increase grocery bills. Many studies have shown this to be true. The fact is that companies change labels all the time, and sometimes the government even mandates it. Remember a few years ago, when products had to start showing trans fats on their labels? Or when countries of origin had to be disclosed on meat labels? Food prices did not go up because of either law, and they wouldn't go up because of this one either.
  • Oregon would NOT be the only state to require GE labeling. Earlier this year, Vermont passed legislation requiring labeling. It will not go into effect until 2016, which is why opponents of our measure can claim that no other state is requiring it. Two other states, Connecticut and Maine, have also passed GE labeling laws, but theirs won't go into effect until five northeast states pass similar laws. Measures have been introduced in all northeastern states, so my hunch is that it won't be long. We won't be the first, but doggonit, we can still help lead the charge!
  • The argument that people can choose to eat "organic" or "non-GMO" foods if they want to avoid them is economically and culturally disingenuous. Many people don't shop in places where organic or non-GMO foods are options, and even if they do, they may not be able to afford them. But that doesn't mean that everyone shouldn't have a choice about whether or not to eat GE foods.
  • The Farm Bureau, one of the big-pocketed farm groups that oppose the measure, represents Big Ag, not small family farmers. (Friends of Family Farmers, a fantastic nonprofit here in Oregon, DOES support small farmers, and also supports the measure. Read more here: http://www.friendsoffamilyfarmers.org/?p=3611.) My suspicion is that Big Ag doesn't want GE foods labeled because use of GE crops is widespread in the agricultural sector, and they don't want us to know how widespread it is. But that's only a suspicion, since, well, currently we don't know! If Big Ag thinks GE crops are so great, why don't they want us to know when we're eating them?
Well, I feel well enough expressed for right now. If you read this far, thank you! If I've inspired you to vote on this important issue, no matter which way you choose, thank you even more. It's not too late to register to vote, either! You have until this Tuesday, and you can do it online here: http://sos.oregon.gov/voting/pages/voteinor.aspx. Please leave a comment below or email me personally if you want to discuss this issue further!

P.S. Just so this post isn't all politics and no fun, here's a pretty picture of the farm tonight, just before sunset:


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