What is Proposition 105?

*Colorado Pols is profiling ballot measures that will appear on the 2014 Colorado statewide ballot. See also:
What is Amendment 67 in Colorado?
What is Amendment 68 in Colorado?
What is Proposition 104 in Colorado?
What is Proposition 105 in Colorado?
 


Proposition 105 (Colorado)
OFFICIAL TITLE: Mandatory Labeling of GMOs
ALSO KNOWN AS: Stickers on Genetically Modified Foods

 

Official Ballot Language for Proposition 105:
"Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning labeling of genetically modified food; and, in connection therewith, requiring food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, "Produced With Genetic Engineering" starting on July 1, 2016; exempting some foods including but not limited to food from animals that are not genetically modified but have been fed or injected with genetically modified food or drugs, certain food that is not packaged for retail sale and is intended for immediate human consumption, alcoholic beverages, food for animals, and medically prescribed food; requiring the Colorado department of public health and environment to regulate the labeling of genetically modified food; and specifying that no private right of action is created for failure to conform to the labeling requirements?”


…In Other Words:
Proposition 105 would mandate new labeling requirements for food that is genetically modified or produced with genetic engineering. The label “Produced with Genetic Engineering” would be required as of July 1, 2016, with exceptions for certain foods for immediate consumption; alcoholic beverages; and food for animals (if you are eating dog food, you probably don’t much care about GMOs).

If you know what “GMO” means, you probably already have a position on this issue.  Supporters of Prop 105 say that enhanced labeling is already standard practice in many countries, including much of Europe. Their principal argument is that consumers should have a right to know more about what goes into their food and how their food is produced, though you could certainly argue that there are some things better left un-knowed (like how sausage is made, for example).

Opponents of Prop 105 argue that new labeling could make food more expensive; food producers would probably pass along any increased costs to the consumer. There are also concerns that Colorado food producers could be put at a disadvantage compared to those from non-GMO labeling states, and that costs for implementing the new law have not been adequately explored.

Aside from financial concerns, Prop 105 opponents worry that the labeling requirements could appear too vague in their broadness. The phrase “Produced with Genetic Engineering” probably has a very different meaning to different people. Prop 105 opponents should also worry that they picked a horrible name for their website; Noon105.com sounds like a new easy-listening radio station.           


Who Supports Proposition 105?
Groups such as Conservation Colorado; grocery chains including Alfalfa’s Market and Whole Foods; and actor Danny DeVito (no, really), among others.


Who Opposes Proposition 105?
The Colorado Farm Bureau; the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; and a whole bunch of food-specific organizations (such as the Beet Sugar Association) are opposed.

 

The Horse Race (Will Proposition 105 Pass or Fail?)
This is a tough contest to predict. There are plenty of resources being spent by either side, and there are solid arguments to be made one way or the other. The ballot language is fairly complicated – particularly compared to Prop 104 – and that won’t help its cause. But while the loudest opposition to Prop 105 comes (obviously) from more rural areas of the state, it will be the urban/suburban voters of Metro Denver and Boulder that will decide the outcome. If we had to guess, we’d say Prop 105 passes; the arguments in favor are quite a bit simpler than those in opposition, and the general idea of more transparency in food production is compelling in itself.


Links
"Yes on 105" campaign site

"No on 105" campaign site
 

18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    The most compelling arguments against genetically modified food, for me, are that we don't know what the hell we are doing when we mess with genomes.

    There are genetically modified strains of rice and wheat that seem to be beneficial; but there are plenty more for which we have no clue what the long term outcomes will be in terms of disease and pest resistance, how they interact with other parts of the ecosystem, etc. 

    All this bill will do is give consumers a chance to make their own choices. Free market proponents should be all for it. 

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      I'll be voting 'Yes' on this but don't have the bandwidth to help with the campaign.  I can't miss the irony that the people who brought us "Secession" and the utterly-fake "War on Rural Colorado" are now asking urban consumers to stand with them to fight this initiative.

      Frankly, I find labeling a very conservative cause.  Give consumers choice.  Embrace the free market, fellow Dumphuckistanians… (and besides, the oligarch's that are funding the 'anti' campaign already have to label in every other consumer market in the world).

      • DawnPatrol says:

        Superbly stated, Michael, as always. I too have voted YES on 105, and am encouraging everyone within my sphere of influence to do likewise.

        Curious how our "freedom-loving" teabag brethren suddenly are not so "pro-freedom" when it comes to us having the right to know what's in the food we consume. Apparently, their definition of "freedom" is suspiciously narrowly defined, and appears based solely upon how much money and/or power they and their cronies can amass through its exercise…

        I don't know who these people are, but they are anything but "patriots"…

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          To my earlier points regarding how we have politicized science and the sway of big money…

          "Sorry to say there has [been] a reversal opinion. This has gone up the ladder quite far and our CEO along with the board have come back saying that we cannot accept the ad. We're concerned about backlash from our members and potentially getting into a battle with the GMO industry."

          "…and worried that "if we allowed that kind of a piece to be printed in Science, then maybe we'd be subject to the GMO world coming after us."  

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        I have to disagree with you, Michael. Farmers have been modifying food since the dawn of agriculture.  GM is more precise and faster than the old hybrid process, but not inherently different.  Indeed, to me, it is the hope of the world, if we expect to feed a growing population without destroying the environment.  I would much rather have pest resistant wheat than smother the great plains in pesticides like "roundup." The Luddites are wrong on this one and I'll vote "no" early and often.

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          My point isn't that I'm advocating shutting down what has become the "Monsanto Method", but that labeling is a no-brainer if you're a free-market, consumer choice advocate.  You are correct: we have been modifying crops since the dawn of agriculture – but not in ways that are being used today.  There is difference between 'hybridization' and 'modifying organisms'.  All they have to do is make a plausible case for their product – and let the scientific community back them up. 

          This will make a few heads pop, but I offer it as a plausibly valid counter-point to where we are heading globally.  I'm not a wild-eyed prohibitionists – our farm is as populated with GMO's as your Phillips County farm.  And everyone in our community likes to think we feed the world.  But do we really?  I'm as pro-ag as any of my neighbors, but I'm willing to have these intellectual debates because I think it's a healthy exercise.  We should be asking ourselves the hard questions, but we aren't.

          • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

            Voyageur – here is my bad attempt at humor after spending most of my days on Capitol Hill last year during the Farm Bill negotiations.  The "He" in this narrative is Monsanto – and he is the equivalent of the smooth talking 'Uncle 'Kracker' from his hit song "Follow Me". 

            The crux of all of these discussions, as they are now, will in the future be around the brute political and legal strength of monopoly powers like Monsanto.  Is it healthy for a food system to be so dominated by one company?  About two months ago I was invited to meet with some young cotton growers in Pima County, AZ who are looking at industrial hemp as an alternative crop.  Case in point: they have become slaves to Monsanto.  They plant their seed; they are required multiple aerial applications of Monsanto chemicals – whether the crop needs it or not.  They feel trapped and are looking for 'outs'.  And very similar to the discussion we have/will be having about water consumption and corn production over the Ogallala, these farmers are consuming nearly 7 acre-feet of water annually from the Central Arizona Project (this could be the subject of an entirely separate diary).   They know this is a system, cotton in the desert, can not sustain itself.

            If you haven't yet read (or watched the documentary) Bitter Seeds, it's well worth the time to do so some evening. 

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          Voyageur – not to nitpick, but Roundup is for weed infestations; pests require a different class of chemical, generally containing neonictinoids. 

  2. The realistThe realist says:

    A good summary of the Proposition plus pro and con statements, as developed in Colorado's first Citizens' Initiative Review process. Of the 20 randomly selected members of the panel which conducted the analysis, 11 decided to support the proposal.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      it is a decent summary. Unfortunately it says nothing different fro what the ads say. One flaw in the summary, I think, is the estimation that creating the agency and running it will only cost $130K/yr. I think its reasonable to think it would be a minimum of 4X that.

      I'm voting for it

  3. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    And people have very good reasons for avoiding GMOs

  4. SocialisticatProgressicat says:

    I had a bit of a time with this one.  I don't have an issue with GM food– I don't think the science is there to say that it's "bad."  But the folks who put forth 105 did everything I would have asked them to: statutory, not constitutional, thus subject to change; no private right of action; exemption for foods that seem reasonable.  I think it's reasonable that people should have enough information to make choices, but I also know that more information can actually result in worse choices.  Also, I'd prefer if it were a GMO free labeling campaign than a GMO in me campaign as labeling may cause some folks to avoid products without understanding why.  Then again, I have to wonder how many people who don't care will actually pay attention to the label.

    In any case, it's the only blank spot on my ballot–well, other than the one by Hick, which I'll color in once my disdain reaches more manageable levels.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Please do and get that ballot in. More Rs traditionally send in earlier than less anal Dem demos and they use that early edge to try to discourage potential Dem voters with their it's all over message. Please remember how much more disdain you have for BWB and remember the good things Hick has done and supports. You may think they're too few but they beat zero. By a lot.

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      My theory on all of these citizen initiatives is that citizens have developed a deep distrust that neither our state legislatures nor Congress will place the general welfare of their constituents above campaign cash.  For the sake of an argument, say that we all agree the food from GMO's is safe (btw, organic movement hero Michael Pollan agrees with that statement).  But, let's say a consumer has a problem with the system.  The food may indeed be safe, but you feel the science isn't settled the application of neonicotinoids to crops and, say, the collapse of pollinator bee colonies. So as a consumer with such concerns, you'd prefer not to support that system.

      You may know that Monsanto, PepsiCo, General Mills and a few others have dumped about $6 million in to CO to defeat the proposal; they're spending tens of millions in other states, too.  We do have a version of 'Gardnerism' going on with the funders:  Annie's, an organic subsidiary of General Mills has donated $25,000 to pass the initiative.  Their parent, General Mills, dumped $650k in to the 'anti' campaign.  With a straight face, General Mills can say they support the 'Yes on 105' campaign. 

  5. taterheaptom says:

    Its difficult to see how providing additional information to consumers is 'luddite,' since this is no ban but just a label, and certainly V isn't proposing some scary slippery slope toward the former with the simple addition of the latter?  I would hope there is some inherent measure of skeptism, lazy-mined luddite slurs aside, so as not to readily swallow the notion that the GMO-pushers dream is to move us to a world of less chemicals considering the 7 figure checks funding the No campaign from DuPont, Dow, Monsanto.  Perhaps the gullible might believe Mosanto just wants to feed the world, but  meanwhile the $5 M they sun into keeping four words off a foo label in one state sure could feed some hungry Coloradans.  Here some stuff to consider if you don't just slurp up Big Chemical's slick schtik.

    'Superweeds' Sprout Farmland Controversy Over GMOs

    U.S. EPA approval of Dow herbicide breaks law, critics say

    Herbicide and Insecticide Use on GMO Crops Skyrocketing 

    But, bottom line, is that Proposition 105 is a labeling law that gives Colorado consumers more information about the foo they buy.  Companies should not be afraid to tell us, we shouldn't be shopping blind.  All of the EU and Mexico and almost every other western nation has labeling of genetically engineered foods with shelves stocked with products, labeled there, by the very same companies fighting labels here–like Pepsico.  Colorado deserves the same.

  6. bardkin says:

    The one thing which stands out about this bill that I don't understand-

    25-5-401.5. Legislative Declaration:

    (3) U.S. FEDERAL LAW DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR THE REGULATION ON THE SAFETY AND LABELING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD

    as well as

    25-5-411. Definitions of "misbranding"

    (4) THERE IS NO PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION AGAINST A DISTRIBUTOR, MANUFACTURER, OR RETAILER THAT SELLS OR ADVERTISES FOOD FOR FAILURE TO CONFORM TO THE LABELING REQUIREMENTS UNDER PARAGRAPH (q) OF SUBSECTION (1) AND THIS SECTION.

    Does this mean that should I find an issue which I would or should be able to go to court over, that this bill denies me that privilege and it uses a lack of Federal control to back it?

    in other words- if a product is incorrectly labeled, and my kid gets sick and dies, do I not have the right to take them to court over it?

     

    I have not seen a single comment or pro/con description of this. I would never want to give that right up just to make this bill pass. I wouldn't do it for any bill on any topic. I have never taken anyone to court and don't want to- but should I be placed in that position, I want the ability to do so.

    Please, someone explain this to me

    Thanks!

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