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Oregonians have a right to know what's in their food

The Chamber of Commons, a nonprofit group that supports bioregional stewardship of natural resources, believes that voters and all citizens of Oregon have a right to know what's in the foods they purchase, consume and feed to their families. We fully endorse Yes on 92, Oregon's ballot measure to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms.

Sixty-four countries, including Europe and Japan, have already required labeling of GMOs. If Oregon fails to do so, the export of our crops and value-added food products will be rejected from a large number of world markets. Crops in Oregon have already been turned away on just on the hint that GMOs might be contained in them.

The opposition to Yes on 92 talks about GMOs as if they are a continuum of selective breeding. This is untrue — GMOs are created by such means as shooting animal genes into food and plant seeds and using bacteria and viruses to force the seeds to accept them. It is a violent process which has been proven senseless by independent studies.

GMO systems do not result in consistently higher crop yields or added nutrition or value and they required ever-increasing amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers (also provided at a huge cost to growers by the chemical corporations). GMOs represented a dangerous departure from our agricultural heritage as they force the mixing of genomes, genes and species that would never meet in nature.

Chemical Corporations like Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Dupont, Bayer & Bayer own and are genetically changing approximately 75 percent of the world's seed supply. Because they own these seeds and the crops harvested from them by licensing to farmers in legally binding contracts and through their patent rights granting ownership as intellectual property, they are exempt from testing or oversight by the EPA or FDA. Independent tests have raised grave and serious doubts about the safety of ingestion of GMO foods.

Many people believe that GMO labeling is not a big deal, but every time consumers do not demand that their right to know is respected, Big Farma brings in more patent applications to government organizations for approval. In Oregon at least 30 patents are pending that would give even greater control to GMO/chemical corporations to own and artificially engineer strawberries, melons, grapes, fruit and vegetable crops and more.

Reports that the labeling will lead to significant price increases for food have been disproven. See the Consumers Union reports on costs of labeling in Oregon at www.notinmyfood.org.

The actions of Monsanto and fellow chemical corporations result in a monopoly of unheard-of scale and proportions. Many of our government officials and Farm Bureaus have turned a blind eye to these dangers because of the lucrative river of money that GMOs create by making cheap and substandard food.

There are many disturbing questions we are raising about the genetic engineering of seeds and plants, and hope that common sense and the precautionary principle will prevail. It seems smarter to heed the warnings of our independent doctors, farmers, theologians and faith leaders, scientists, trusted economists and researchers such as Consumer Reports and many knowledgeable elected officials than to believe those who are sponsoring and funding the opposition. See a list of who's endorsing Measure 92 at www.oregonrighttoknow.org to understand the broad-based support.

The opposition's sponsors and funders, meanwhile, include 20 out-of-state chemical corporations and co-opted Farm Bureaus that benefit from the profit motivation to not label and continue the proliferation and selling of GMO products to uninformed American consumers and a decreasing global marketplace.

Please share this information widely and join us in voting Yes on 92. To not heed the warnings of our most informed, independent experts will put us all at great future peril.

Catie Faryl has lived in Southern Oregon for 26 years and been involved with the arts, theater and education. Prior to that she directed the Alameda Housing Authority, was a transportation coordinator for the city of Alameda.