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GMO labeling endorsement proposed

City Club of Portland will decide this, others in August.


The City Club of Portland will consider a recommendation to endorse a ballot measure requiring the labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients.

An endorsement, if the membership decides on it in August, would give the still-unnumbered measure a boost for the Nov. 4 general election.

A study committee of the City Club, Oregon’s leading civic forum, unveiled its recommendation Wednesday morning.

The committee report concludes:

“The decision to support the measure hinges primarily on the principle that there is clear evidence that consumers have a variety of concerns related to the production and consumption of GE foods, and a lack of evidence substantiating the negative effects of labeling that opponents claim the measure would cause.”

The public is invited to a City Club presentation on election-related issues. The event is from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Oregon Public House, 700 NE Dekum St., Portland. Only City Club members may vote on endorsements during the period from Aug. 20 to 25; results will be released Aug. 26.

The GMO measure, which will be assigned a number Thursday, is expected to be the focus of a lot of claims and counterclaims. Oregon voters rejected a similar measure in 2002, and voters in California and Washington rejected measures in 2012 and 2013, but only after campaign spending of $46 million and $22 million, the latter a record for Washington state.

Vermont is the only state with such a law, but businesses are suing to block it before it takes effect.

Oregon’s measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

The report of the City Club panel says various labels already are required on raw and packaged foods, and that the cost of the proposed requirement would be less than opponents speculate. The panel also says that the requirement would not necessarily stigmatize GMO foods as opponents assert.

“Our committee’s member-volunteers were very clear that they were not interested in taking a position on whether genetically engineered foods are good or bad,” says Elana Pirtle-Guiney, who led the panel. “Rather, they saw this measure as a clear issue of transparency and truth in labeling. Consumers in a free market deserve reasonable tools to make informed decisions.”

Other panel members were Andrea Meyer, vice chairwoman; Jillian Girard, lead writer; Mitchel Auerbach, Eugene Bradley, Paul Brown, Christine Farrington, Michael Parkhurst, Apurva Pawashe and Matthew Tschabold. Nicole Pexton was the panel’s research adviser.

City Club officials say panels will offer recommendations on 10 election-related issues, among them five statewide ballot measures. The other state measures are:

A constitutional amendment to create a post-secondary aid fund through bonds or other debt.

A constitutional amendment to write a ban on discrimination by gender into the Oregon Constitution.

A measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and authorize the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate its cultivation, sale and taxation.

A measure to authorize four-year driver’s cards, shorter than the usual eight-year license, for people who meet all other requirements except proof of legal presence in the United States.

The text of the City Club of Portland can be found here:

ballotmeasures-gmo>www.pdxcityclub.org/ballotmeasures-gmo

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Activates link to City Club of Portland report and rtecommendation.