As Oregon family farmers, we enthusiastically support the ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods. It would help Oregonians tell the difference between locally grown real food and genetically engineered crops developed in labs and patented by Monsanto, Syngenta and other global chemical companies.

The support for the upcoming labeling ballot measure is not surprising. It just makes sense that Oregonians should have the right to know what is in our food. Sixty-four other countries require GMO labeling, and U.S. companies have had to label GMO products they sell in Europe and Japan for years.

But requiring genetically engineered foods to be labeled is not just good for consumers, it’s good for Oregon’s family farmers. Labeling will help family farmers compete against the out-of-state chemical corporations that now get to sneak their

genetically engineered crops into our grocery stores and kitchens. If people are able to tell from a simple label whether a given food is genetically engineered, it makes it easier to decide to buy locally grown real food instead of “foods” patented by Monsanto or DuPont.

Monsanto and its local representatives with Oregonians for Food and Shelter are well aware labeling will decrease demand for their products. Informed buyers are not good for corporations selling products many people would like to avoid.

It should be no surprise that the out of state corporations that profit from genetically engineered crops will be spending enormous amounts of money to scare and mislead Oregon voters. One of their more preposterous claims is that labeling would somehow hurt Oregon’s family farmers. This is ironic in light of the recently passed ballot initiatives where a coalition of 170 family farms won landslide victories in Jackson and Josephine counties, banning the growing of genetically engineered crops.

For family farmers, the potential contamination of our crops with genetically engineered pollen or seed is a major threat.

Genetically engineered pollen from sugar beets, for example, can spread for up to two miles, and if it pollinates a traditional farmers’ field, it can make their beet or chard seeds illegal to sell or use under federal patent law.

Even worse, Bt crops, with a built-in genetically engineered insecticide, are dangerous to insect pollinators such as honeybees, bumblebees and mason bees — on which many of our traditional crops depend.

During the next several months, Monsanto and the other chemical corporations that profit from genetically engineered crops will be spending millions of dollars claiming labeling will increase food prices, hurt Oregon farmers and will somehow be confusing for customers.

These arguments sound better than complaining about lower profits for themselves, but that doesn’t make them true. Scare tactics worked in California and Washington, but we trust Oregonians are not going to fall for the same disingenuous political spin.

What labeling opponents are doing is attacking Oregonians’ right to know what is in our food. This knowledge is as good for people who want to buy real food as it is for the family farmers who grow it.

Anne and Rene Berblinger have been growing organic vegetables and garden starts at Gales Meadow Farm in Gales Creek since 1999.

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