Oct. 20, 2014

Alexander Nedd
anedd@uccs.edu

On Nov. 4, Colorado, along with the rest of the country, will hold elections. Although much attention has been placed on the mid-term election of officials such as the governor, there is one measure that is possibly more relevant, Genetically Modified Organism labeling.

Proposition 105 in Colorado will ask voters to decide if any “prepackaged processed food or raw agriculture commodity that has been produced using genetic engineering” will require a label.

Research indicates that many young voters in the region are unfamiliar with why the measure has been put on the ballot this fall. Here are frequently asked questions about the Proposition 105, along with what students are saying about the practice here on campus.

What are GMOs?

According to the NON GMO Project, GMOs are plants or vegetables that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. In most developed countries such as the United States and China, they are often regarded as unsafe, with studies indicating GMOs can contribute to health problems, environmental damage and a violation of consumers and farmers’ rights.

Why is it such a big deal?

Toward the end of summer, The Right To Know Colorado Campaign had garnered over 170,000 signatures in their belief that Colorado citizens should know what is in their food. Those signatures put the issue on the ballot for November. Since then, the movement has gained momentum.

But there are those who believe GMO labeling should be left alone such as the group NO on 105. According to their website, NO on 105 believes the ballot measure misinforms readers and cites that new costs of initializing the measure will hurt farmers and force Colorado taxpayers to pay more, including higher prices at groceries stores.

64 countries have passed similar laws on GMOs, enacting mandatory labeling. What are students saying about the initiative?

Minerva McCray is a sophomore theater major who believes GMO labeling would be useful here in Colorado.

“I think it’s important for people to be aware of what has been genetically modifi ed and put in their bodies,” McCray said. “I think GMOs are harmful because it doesn’t come from nature and we are modifying it and we don’t know what the effects could be like years from now.”

Transfer student Joshua Scruitsky is an undecided junior. He believes GMO labeling should take place as well.

“Everyone should have the right know what’s been modifi ed and what hasn’t,” Scruitsky said. “I work at Walmart and it might be true that they might raise the prices for the label but I can’t imagine it would be too much.”

“If it’s going to make people more aware of what they are eating then why not,” McCray added. “I’m very much an organic person; I personally like to eat very healthy and not have my food modifi ed.”

A survey conducted by USA Today said that most Coloradans favored the measure. Of 500 registered voters polled, 51.6 percent favored yes while 26.8 percent said no, and the remaining 18.6 percent remained undecided.

What will happen should Propositions 105 Pass in Colorado?

If the measure is approved by the majority of Colorado voters, the law would require all foods with GMOs to be labeled by Jan. 1, 2016.

Voting ends Nov. 4. Eligible voters can now register at any voting booth.