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ASPB urges opposition to mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods in Oregon

The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), a nonprofit society of nearly 6,000 scientists opposes Measure 27, which will be on the Oregon state ballot next month. ASPB said Measure 27 calls for non-science-based government mandates in labeling genetically engineered food. ASPB noted that Measure 27 would produce more confusion than knowledge for consumers.

"The language in Measure 27 calls for labeling to be based on a system of beliefs of what is "natural," rather than a scientifically defined set of criteria focused on content and nutritional value," said ASPB President Daniel Bush, Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana. "This is a radical departure from food labeling up to now, which is designed to maximize useful information for consumers concerning what is in the food they are buying."

Bush said, "We have no quarrel with the premise behind this measure, that consumers deserve to know what they're eating. Labeling as provided in Measure 27, however, would not apply a scientifically sound and uniform standard that fully informs consumers of risks or even nutritional value. A mandated label based on process instead of content detracts from the usefulness of content-based labeling. There are, of course, examples of voluntary labeling standards in the food industry that reflect how foods are processed, such as organic foods. The voluntary organic labeling standards were sought by the organic food industry. Kosher foods are also labeled as having been produced in accordance with specific beliefs. However, mandatory labeling of targeted production methods has never before been required and we believe would obscure rather than clarify important issues of food safety."

Bush commented, "As plant scientists, we know that many of the technologies considered unnatural in Measure 27 are superior to traditional methods currently in use. Processes such as selection from crosses of wild relatives into commercial species can carry far gr
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Contact: Brian Hyps
bhyps@aspb.org
301-251-0560
American Society of Plant Biologists
15-Oct-2002


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