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Supporters Of Oregon's Food Labeling Measure Submit Signatures

Toby Talbot
AP Photo
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Oregon voters may get the chance to require food companies to label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Sponsors of an initiative to require labels turned in more than 150,000 signatures — nearly double the required minimum — Wednesday in an effort to make the ballot this November. Opponents have already denounced the measure.

The initiative is relatively simple; it would require genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such. Supporters say the public needs the information to make informed choices about what they put in their bodies.

But a similar initiative failed in Washington state last year after the food and agri-business industry spent a state record amount of money to defeat it. Another effort failed at the ballot in California in 2012.

Sandeep Kaushik of Oregon Right to Know says campaigners have their work cut out for them.

"There's no question in our minds that we are going to be significantly outspent," Kaushik said.

It didn't take long for opponents of mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods to respond. A lobbyist for the pesticide industry issued a statement saying the initiative would lead to higher grocery prices.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.

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