Public distrust of genetically altered foods fuels ballot initiatives


Heather Beshears

Despite the defeat of two recent ballot measures and continued heavy spending by the food industry to avoid required labeling of genetically modified foods, activists continue the push forward.

Midterm ballot initiatives on mandatory food labeling in Colorado and Oregon were defeated by voters this month. This follows similar defeats in recent years in both Washington and California.

This year, legislation has been introduced in 20 states. Proponents of such measures have been greatly outspent, with the food industry spending more than $100 million in opposition. Yet, there have been advances. County-level legislation was passed in Hawaii and California. GMO bills have passed in Maine, Connecticut and Vermont, but all are on hold.

Nicole Darnall, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and the School of Sustainability, says that anti-GMO sentiment is growing and the recent initiatives mark “putting power into citizens’ hands.”

Darnall tells National Geographic, “history has shown that corporations can stall these sorts of measures, but ultimately they tend to get passed."

The School of Public Affairs is part of the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University.