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LABELLING & CONSUMERS: USA: Colorado group seeks mandatory labeling of GM food



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   USA: COLORADO GROUP SEEKS MANDATORY LABELING OF GM FOOD

SOURCE:  Northern Colorado Business Report

AUTHOR:  Steve Lynn

URL:     http://www.ncbr.com/article/20131202/NEWS/131209991

DATE:    04.12.2013

SUMMARY: "A Colorado issue committee seeks to place a measure on the November 2014 ballot to require labeling of genetically modified foods. "

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USA: COLORADO GROUP SEEKS MANDATORY LABELING OF GM FOOD

A Colorado issue committee seeks to place a measure on the November 2014 ballot to require labeling of genetically modified foods.

State officials will convene Wednesday to decide whether to let Right to Know Colorado GMO in Arvada begin gathering signatures for a ballot initiative petition. Registered as an issue committee with the state, the group must gather 86,105 signatures, which the state must verify by early August for the measure to appear on the ballot. If successful, voters would decide whether to approve the measure in the November 2014 election.

If voted into law, the Colorado Right to Know Act would require food manufacturers or distributors to label genetically modified food starting in 2016, according to documents filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.

Formed in March by Tryna Cooper and her husband, Larry Cooper, the organization reported about $1,500 cash on hand, according to a finance report filed with the Secretary of State's office.

Genetically modified crops such as corn and sugar beets that contain properties to withstand insecticide and eradicate pests are commonly grown in Northern Colorado. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not track its use in Colorado, but it's estimated that at least half of corn grown in the region is genetically modified.

Critics argue that the long-term health effects of genetically modified food consumption by humans and animals are unknown. The industry contends that genetically modified foods are safe and that labeling would be expensive.

Companies should have to label genetically modified food for health and safety reasons, said Tryna Cooper, co-chair of Right to Know Colorado. Several other countries require labeling or have banned genetically modified foods.

"The federal government doesn't seem to be moving on this," she said. The U.S. is "a little bit behind the eight ball."

Similar ballot measures have failed in states such as California and Washington, but she believes her group's initiative will pass in Colorado because the issue has received more attention recently. Right to Know Colorado plans to enlist support from a number of other groups throughout the state and nationwide.

"We don't plan on losing in Colorado," she said. "It's our right to know what's in our food."



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   ILLINOIS: FIELD NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TO LABEL GE FOODS

SOURCE:  Food & Water Watch

AUTHOR:  Jessica Fujan

URL:     http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/field-notes-from-the-campaign-to-label-ge-foods-illinois/

DATE:    12.11.2013

SUMMARY: "There?s no denying that Illinois is Big Ag country ? Illinois? 76,000 farms covering more than 28 million acres grow a vast amount of our countries? genetically engineered commodity crops, and we are surrounded by the big names in biotech like ADM, Kraft, and Monsanto.  "

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ILLINOIS: FIELD NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TO LABEL GE FOODS

There?s no denying that Illinois is Big Ag country ? Illinois? 76,000 farms covering more than 28 million acres grow a vast amount of our countries? genetically engineered commodity crops, and we are surrounded by the big names in biotech like ADM, Kraft, and Monsanto.  

Despite the odds, the people of Illinois are demanding transparency from Big Ag and Food & Water Watch and its allies have made great strides to advance genetically engineered labeling in the state. We are joined by our friends at the Organic Consumers Association, Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois Right to Know GMO, and the Illinois Public Health Association in demanding transparency for the food we eat, but also the food we grow.  

Illinoisans have rallied behind SB 1666 and the Chair of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Dave Koehler. To date, more than 9,000 petitions have told legislators to sponsor or vote for the bill that would require labeling for any food product containing more than 1 percent GE ingredients. Farmers of genetically engineered crops have come forward to share their experiences with lower yields, superweeds, and the desire to transition to a more sustainable farming model.  

This summer, the Senate hosted a tour of public hearings where labeling supporters packed the house in Bloomington/Normal, Carbondale, and Chicago to hear expert witnesses give testimony. If you weren?t among the hundreds who came out, you can hear more about our final hearing on NPR. 

We wouldn?t have been able to make the hearings so impactful without the help of our amazing local coordinators in Champaign, Peoria, Oak Lawn, Carbondale and Aurora.  Since the bill was introduced last February, they have given a life and a face to a campaign that has meant so much to people. If you care deeply about where your food comes from and how it?s made, let us know!  We?ll hook you up with people in your area who share your values!



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   USA: RICHMOND MOVES FORWARD WITH GE FOOD LABELS

SOURCE:  Contra Costa Times

AUTHOR:  Robert Rogers

URL:     http://www.contracostatimes.com/west-county-times/ci_24463479/richmond-moves-forward-gmo-labeling-urban-agriculture-plans

DATE:    08.11.2013

SUMMARY: "This city with an industrial legacy may be poised to move ahead with some of the state's most innovative policies promoting urban organic farming and labeling of foods produced with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. "

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USA: RICHMOND MOVES FORWARD WITH GE FOOD LABELS

This city with an industrial legacy may be poised to move ahead with some of the state's most innovative policies promoting urban organic farming and labeling of foods produced with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The City Council on Tuesday approved two items directing staff to craft new city laws. The first, which passed unanimously, would provide local organizations that convert urban parcels into food-producing gardens with new "incentive zones" in which owners would benefit from steep property tax discounts, according to a staff report.

The second, which passed by a 5-2 vote, directs City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller to draft an ordinance requiring GMO labeling of food sold at local grocers. 

"We have an urban agriculture movement in this city," said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who also expressed strong support for the labeling measure. "This is an opportunity to expand on that, and it's proven to be a positive image builder."

In recent years, Richmond has seen dozens of acres of abandoned, weed-choked urban parcels converted into small farms, often tilled by local volunteers and young workers paid by streams of private and public funding. The former World War II shipbuilding mecca and home to heavy industry is one of many industrial cities around the country to see a rise in urban farming, along with larger projects in places like Chicago and Detroit.

The GMO measure may prove more controversial, sparking fierce opposition from Councilmen Nat Bates and Corky Boozé on Tuesday and likely to elicit pushback from food retailers.

The GMO ordinance, proposed by Councilman Tom Butt, himself an urban farmer and devotee of organic foods, could require all food retailers regardless of size or where they get their products to label foods produced with GMOs -- identified as organisms whose genetic material has been altered to produce food more efficiently. The health effects of GMOs are subject to wide-ranging debate within the scientific community.

"Statewide, this may make sense," Bates said. "But for little old Richmond to try to impose these sanctions is a nightmare. Who will enforce this? How will we determine who has to do it?"

Last year, statewide ballot measure Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of genetically modified foods, narrowly failed in the face of millions in campaign spending by agricultural interests. Richmond's City Council passed a symbolic resolution in September 2012 supporting Proposition 37.

"It lost in California, but (labeling GMOs) is a growing movement around the world," Butt said, noting that the European Union, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and other sovereign states have mandated GMO labeling on produce. "It's probably going to happen sooner or later (in the U.S.)"

Richmond's council has not shied from legislative firsts in recent years, but proponents noted that Berkeley in September directed its staff to craft a similar labeling ordinance. Goodmiller said he believed the city had the legal authority to impose labeling requirements on merchants.

Butt and McLaughlin admonished that staff would have to navigate a series of questions and unintended consequences, including who would be affected, how to enforce the law and what the penalties would be.

Boozé and Bates scoffed at being in league with Berkeley on the law, and complained that labeling requirements could exacerbate the city's long-standing problems with attracting full-service grocers.

"How are our mom and pop stores supposed to (comply with) this?" Boozé asked.

Both ordinances are expected to come back to the council late this year for further deliberations.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:   GMO LABELING: WHAT BIAS IS CLOUDING YOUR DECISION MAKING?

SOURCE:  The Bellingham Herald

AUTHOR:  Vince Palazzo

URL:     http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/11/11/3308499/what-bias-is-clouding-your-decision.html

DATE:    12.11.2013

SUMMARY: "I don?t remember much from that long-ago day. There was some pain. Everything was a blur. The only clear memory is of a seemingly endless line of people. They all said the same thing: ?Wow, that was a neat crash. I wish I had a camera.?"

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GMO LABELING: WHAT BIAS IS CLOUDING YOUR DECISION MAKING?

I don?t remember much from that long-ago day. There was some pain. Everything was a blur. The only clear memory is of a seemingly endless line of people. They all said the same thing: ?Wow, that was a neat crash. I wish I had a camera.?

By then I had been racing motorcycles for a couple of years. There was nothing finer than Southern California motocross in the early 1970s. I loved it. It was my life.

But I had not yet discovered one crucial piece of information: I really sucked at it. Every time I went fast, I crashed spectacularly.

Finally figuring that out was a revelation, but why did it take me so long to see what was obvious to everyone else? Unfortunately, it has to do with being human. We make decisions based on what we think we know, instead of what we actually know.

In my case I thought I was far more coordinated and talented than I actually was. My racing decisions were colored by an ego too large to admit that I might have something else to learn.

Once I saw this, I could apply this lesson to every other aspect of my life. I learned how to research a subject so I can speak authoritatively supported by facts, not conjecture. It?s worked out well. Both my sons have stated that I?m usually right not because I?m Dad, but because I speak with knowledge.

I then admitted my secret: Don?t talk or act if you don?t know what you?re doing.

The trick is to separate real reality from your personally constructed reality. After my August article one of my readers, Lance Smith, kindly sent me a copy of a presentation he made in college. It concerned data collection and interpretation, and the use of this in one?s decision-making.

If I understand him correctly, he demonstrates how we make decisions based on our interpretation of the data. This interpretation is based on our personal bias. We skew the data to fit our preconceived notions and ignore what doesn?t fit these notions.

An example of this can be found in the fight over Initiative 522 concerning labeling on genetically modified foods. At this writing, the election has not occurred. From all the ads I see two positions. One implies that genetically modified equals FrankenFood. ?We have to know it?s there!? The other position is added cost and inconsistencies in application of the law?s requirements.

Neither side is mentioning that almost all our food is genetically modified. I remember when a Red Delicious apple was sweet and crisp, but not so red. It?s been genetically modified through breeding to be red at the expense of taste and texture. Corn bears little resemblance to the native maize it started as.

Our Thanksgiving turkey has been bred for larger breasts. Pork is commonly injected with a saline solution to mimic the texture it had before it was bred to be ?healthy.? Beef, tomatoes, the list is endless.

I believe knowledge of this would have changed the nature of the debate.

Take our foray into Afghanistan. That country has never been subjugated. Russia?s invasion was a major factor in the dissolution of the USSR. Yet our leaders looked at it and thought, ?no problem.?

Should we discuss Obamacare? I wonder what mental gymnastics were needed to pass and implement it in this form. Who thought it was a good idea for those opposing it to hold our country hostage and damage our economy in an attempt to repeal it?

On a personal note, how many people ignore all the warning signs and stay with a toxic significant other because they ?love? them?

We should make decisions after much more careful consideration than we usually do. Looking beyond our emotions or personal bias is difficult, but necessary if we are to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.