In Colorado and Oregon, mandatory labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food was centre stage in 2014’s political campaigns, with millions of dollars spent on advertising to sway voters.
Those supporting Prop 105 in Colorado and Measure 92 in Oregon say GMO foods can be harmful to human health due to pesticide residues and the altered crop genetics. Opponents say the effort to label genetically modified food is overly cumbersome and will spread misinformation. Some estimate that $20 million has been spent by opponents of labelling; corporations on this side of the fence include Monsanto, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Kellogg and Coca-Cola.
Meanwhile, a US-wide campaign for the right of states to enforce mandatory labelling of food containing GMOs received over 175,000 signatures. The campaign was launched on the petition site moveon.org in response to proposed amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill, revoking this right.
Photo credit: US Department of Agriculture / Flickr
The prominence of genetic modification in these political debates is part of a bigger picture for voters, where the transparency of information – particularly where it can impact on health – is a central concern.