“Right to Know Colorado GMO” has collected approximately 167,995 signatures in favor of its ballot initiative requiring manufacturers to disclose which foods contain genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). The number of signatures obtained is more than enough to present the initiative to the Colorado Secretary of State. Despite this success, the Colorado initiative must still surmount several obstacles.
Right to Know Colorado GMO supporters will face opposition led by the Coalition Against the Misleading Labeling Initiative. The Coalition is backed by the Grocery Manufacturing Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, Biotechnology Organization, Colorado Bioscience Association, Nutrition Edge Communications, Rocky Mountain Food Industry Association, Pioneer Hi-Bred Research Center, Dow Agro Sciences LLC, and the Monsanto Company.
There is also speculation that Right to Know Colorado GMO may also be opposed by Colorado’s new-and-powerful marijuana industry. The proposed ballot initiative, while exempting products like alcohol and meat from its domain, fails to exempt marijuana products from the duty to disclose the presence of GMOs. The portions of the industry selling edible marijuana products would be the most burdened by this ballot initiative. After recently earning the right to sell recreational marijuana in Colorado, many are wondering where the fast-growing marijuana industry will stand in this debate.
Additionally, campaign disclosures filed with the Secretary of State indicate Right to Know Colorado GMO is somewhat short on funds. Contrary to the GMO-labeling movements in other states, Colorado’s GMO-labeling initiative is mainly funded by small, grassroots contributions. For instance, GMO-labeling supporters in Oregon currently have $220,000 in war funds while Right to Know Colorado GMO is reported to have only $28,515 remaining in their cash reserves.
Finally, a bipartisan bill prohibiting state GMO-labeling laws is pending in the US House of Representatives. The bill is currently being considered by the House Subcommittee on Health. Its fate and that of Colorado’s ballot initiative have yet to be decided.