Proposition 105: labeling of genetically modified organisms

Josephine Bush

Proposition 105, a proposal that has already been approved in Maine, Connecticut and Vermont as well as in 64 countries, would make it mandatory for companies to label foods that have been genetically modified or contain genetically engineered ingredients.

According to Colorado State Extension’s Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods, foods that have been genetically modified have been in existence since 1990s.

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“The labeling may not be useful information for the consumer,” said Gregory Graff, one of the authors of the document. “They may see the label saying GMO and it may create anxiety of the product.”

The Right to Know GMO of Colorado says the labeling simply gives the people of Colorado a better understanding of what is going in their food and what they are putting into their bodies.

“GMOs can not occur in nature,” Right to Know volunteer Laura Porter said. “They can only be made in labs and currently not required to be labeled right now … the labeling would allow for people to make their own decisions.”

According to Graff, Colorado’s relatively small population of five million people makes GMO labeling problematic for the state.

“The companies will have to individually label for Colorado, a fairly small population within the North American Free Trade Agreement,” Graff said. “This has the possibility to drive food prices up.”

Katie Stevens, a sophomore animal science major at CSU, said that Proposition 105 would drive up costs for the labeling and take business away from farmers even in Colorado.

“To me it seems like a push for organics, and I understand the right to know what is in your food, but according to studies from the FDA, there is no real difference, and it would take business away from farmers and drive consumer prices up,” Stevens said.

According to Stevens, GMOs have made food more accessible to the world’s growing population due to the fact they can create larger yields and crop resistant foods.

“You gotta keep coming up with these things … to feed the world,” Stevens said.

According to Porter, GMOs have greatly affected those with allergies. After GMOs came into play, peanut allergies doubled and there was a 265 percent increase in the amount of hospitalizations due to peanut intake.

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Peanuts are not a GMO product, but cotton is, and they are often grown on the same field, which could suggest a possible correlation.

“This is not a ban on GMOs, rather its a disclosure so consumers can have information,” Porter said.

Porter also stated that the proposition would only cost about 2 cents per Coloradan.

The labeling would let individuals know what GMOS are within the product, but according to CSU assistant professor Dan Graham, that is not necessarily the information that people who are trying to make healthy decisions need to seek out.

Graham has been conducting research on the importance of labeling and how people make health-conscience decisions. He has found that the majority of individuals when looking at food labels will glance at the top three ingredients, whereas the ones lower down are the ingredients that are generally bad for your health.

“Fats, sodium and sugars have a much greater impact on your health than GMOs do,” Graham said.

Graham has studied how putting health labels such as amount of fats and sugar on the front of food packaging would make a difference and help people understand the decisions they are making.

“If Colorado voters vote yes, it won’t be the end of the story,” Graham said. “It could become a national issue and the FDA may be swayed to go that way.”

Collegian Reporter Josephine Bush can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @Jobush620.