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Estimate proposed for GMO labeling

State agencies face up to $600,000 in start-up costs.


State agencies will face one-time spending of up to $600,000 if Oregon voters approve a requirement for labeling of food produced with genetically modified organisms.

A committee of officials came up with that estimate, which will be considered at a public meeting Wednesday at the Capitol. The committee is led by Secretary of State Kate Brown and prepares estimates of financial effects of ballot measures on state and local governments.

The GMO labeling measure will be assigned a number on Thursday.

Start-up costs for the Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Health Authority to set rules under the new law, should voters approve it Nov. 4, range between $550,000 and $600,000.

Estimates for all ballot measures, once made final, become part of the state voter pamphlet and online voter guide.

Under the measure, either the state or individual citizens can sue in court to enforce the labeling requirements.

The committee is obligated only to consider financial effects on governments in estimates. The draft estimate says there is no anticipated effect on local governments.

Oregon voters rejected a similar measure in 2002, and voters in California and Washington followed suit in 2012 and 2013, but only after campaigns of $46 million and $22 million, the latter a record for Washington state.

In addition to Brown, committee members are Jim Buchholz, director of the Department of Revenue; Deb Guzman, local government representative, and chief financial officer of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue; Michael Jordan, director of the Department of Administrative Services, and Tom Rinehart, chief of staff for the Oregon State Treasury.

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