Some of the nation’s largest agriculture and food corporations, including such well-known names as Monsanto, Kraft Foods and PepsiCo., have lined up against Colorado’s Proposition 105, which would required labeling of certain genetically modified foods, or GMOs.
Those three companies alone have contributed $7.4 million of the $11 million raised by the campaign to defeat the ballot issue Nov. 4. With this money, they have mounted a vigorous TV ad campaign against 105.
The labeling advocates, however, have raised only $441,000, and have not purchased any television or radio advertising to advocate their position. The group is operating a grassroots campaign, knocking on doors and using social media.
This could mean that Coloradans who receive their information solely from TV ad campaigns think Colorado farmers do not support the labeling initiative – but that is only partly true.
The Colorado Farm Bureau has donated more than $7,000 to defeat the measure, but the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union, with more than 22,000 members in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, actually endorsed the pro-labeling campaign.
“GMO labeling is one of the things that we support,” said Bill Midcap, director of external affairs of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “But we know it’s going to be tough for a single state to enact.
“How would you expect General Mills to label something special just for one state, just for Colorado?” Midcap said. “Think about Kellogg or Coca-Cola. Are they willing to change just for Colorado? Maybe if 15 states did it – but this would be more effective as a national issue.”
GMO labeling is also on the Oregon ballot this year. And as if to underscore Midcap’s point, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut are the only states to have passed labeling requirements, but they will not be enacted until 2016 – or until a population of at least 20 million people in neighboring states require the labeling, too.
Still, the measure could fare better than expected if a Citizens Initiative Review is a guide. This was a politically balanced panel of voters who spent three days hearing from independent experts, pro and con views, and then decided by an 11-to-9 vote to approve it.