Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

22 Aug 2014

This November, GMO labeling initiative will be on the ballot for Colorado voters to decide

Posted by Adam Howell


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rtk_co_logoColorado voters will have the opportunity this November to decide if the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment should require the labeling of genetically modified foods.

Known as Initiative 105, The Colorado Right to Know Act, proponents Larry Cooper and Cheryl Gray have been pushing the campaign through their organization called Right To Know Colorado. They keep their followers updated on the Facebook page for Right To Know Colorado.

In order for activists to qualify the initiative for the ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office required the signatures of 86,105 registered voters, yet petition circulators gathered and submitted 171,387 signatures, according to Colorado Secretary of State Spokesman Rich Coolidge. From a 5% sample taken of those signatures submitted, about 6,245 or 72% were accepted, he said.

Getting the Initiative 105 on the ballot was a statewide effort involving both paid and non-paid petition circulators.

From the early stages of submitting the title language to the Colorado Ballot Title Setting Board, the group met resistance in the Colorado Supreme Court from Rocky Mountain Food Industry Association Board President Mary Lou Chapman, a trade organization for the Colorado and Wyoming grocery industry who claimed that the title language was misleading.

Also petitioning against the ballot title and submission clause in the Colorado Supreme Court was Mark Arnusch, the manager of Mark Arnusch Farms LLC, a producer and distributor of corn, various other crops and GMO seeds. His farm is in Keenesburg, northeast of Denver.

Eventually, the Colorado Supreme Court approved the ballot title, and the final text for the initiative was approved by the Colorado Ballot Title Setting Board.

The final text of the initiative would require genetically modified food to carry the label “Produced with Genetic Engineering” starting July 1, 2016.

Of most importance in the ballot language is the following section:

Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning labeling of genetically modified food; and, in connection therewith, requiring food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, “Produced With Genetic Engineering” starting on July 1, 2016; exempting some foods including but not limited to food from animals that are not genetically modified but have been fed or injected with genetically modified food or drugs, certain food that is not packaged for retail sale and is intended for immediate human consumption, alcoholic beverages, food for animals, and medically prescribed food; requiring the Colorado department of public health and environment to regulate the labeling of genetically modified food; and specifying that no private right of action is created for failure to conform to the labeling requirements?

Similar ballot initiatives in California and Washington have been rejected by voters in recent elections after Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising campaigns in opposition.

The main difference in Right to Know Colorado’s Initiative 105 is a clause within that would prohibit civil lawsuits against manufacturers, food distributors, or retailers for failure to conform to the labeling requirements.

Register to vote by clicking on this link to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

Right to Know Colorado flyer

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