Genetically Modified Food Labeling Makes Ballot, Citizens’ Initiative Review

Initiative 48,  requiring genetically modified food to be labeled in Colorado, has formally qualified for this fall’s election ballot, the Secretary of State’s office announced.

If passed by voters, it would require food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled “Produced with Genetic Engineering” starting July 1, 2016.

Initiative 48 is also going to be used as a trial run for the Citizens’ Initiative Review, which uses a balanced panel of citizen jurors to evaluate and inform voters about state ballot measures – the way it is done by state law in Oregon.

The Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) will task 20 citizen panelists, balanced by political affiliation and geography, with studying Initiative 48 and putting their findings forward to voters. They will deliberate for up to 3 ½ days, while hearing directly from proponents and opponents of the issue. The sessions will be moderated by professional facilitators, and neutral policy experts will be available for questions.

“The Colorado CIR is an opportunity for Coloradans to test the effectiveness of the citizen jury model for the evaluation of ballot measures, which can be complex and confusing for voters,” said Cathy Shull, advisory board member and executive director of Progressive 15, a public policy organization representing Northeast Colorado. “The genetically modified food labeling initiative was selected for review because it could have broad impact on citizens across the state for years to come.”

The Colorado CIR pilot will also study the impact and reach of the state’s neutral State Ballot Information Booklet, or “Blue Book.”

The Citizens’ Initiative Review was championed in Oregon by the nonprofit Healthy Democracy, which is also conducting a pilot in Arizona this fall.

Unlike Oregon, however, the Colorado pilot Citizens’ Statement will not be published in the state’s voter guide, because doing so would require legislative action. Instead, the panel’s statement will be published at www.circolorado.org for all voters to read and share.

A five-percent random sample of the submitted signatures for Initiative 48 projected the number of valid signatures to be greater than 110 percent of the total number of signatures required for placement on the ballot, the Secretary of State’s office said in a news release.

 

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