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GMO Labeling Bill Moves Forward in Oregon

Supporters collected double the number of signatures necessary; voters will have their say in November.

A sign at a 2013 rally in Connecticut. (photo: cc / flickr / CT Senate Democrats)

Voters in Oregon want to know what's in their food and in November they will be given the chance to have their voices heard.

Food safety advocates on Wednesday submitted over 150,000 signatures, nearly twice the amount required, in support of Ballot Initiative #44, which would require food manufacturers to label foods sold in Oregon that are produced with genetic modified organisms, or GMOs.

Earlier this year, voters in two Oregon counties approved ballot measures to prohibit the cultivation of GMO crops within county borders. In addition, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber signed a bill last year banning GMO canola in the Willamette Valley until 2019.

Should Ballot Initiative #44 pass, Oregon would join three other states (Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont) that have passed GMO labeling measures. As of June 10, 2014, there were 30 pieces of GMO food labeling legislation on the table in 16 states.

The campaign is expected to be a costly one. Last year, food labeling opponents contributed $22 million to help defeat a similar ballot initiative in Washington.

"We don't have any illusions that we're not going to be vastly outspent. We will be," Oregon GMO Right to Know campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik told The Oregonian. "We're confident given the strong positive reaction we've had during our signature gathering phase that we can be successful."

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