It's endorsement week at the Mercury. That means, for the next few days, we'll be releasing endorsements in one or more selected races here on Blogtown—building up to our full set of election picks, due out this Wednesday.

Today, we reveal our decision in the race for Measure 92, which would require corporations to label whether food made for humans was produced through genetic engineering. (Hint: If you remember what happened after we announced our stance in favor of fluoridation, what happens next might feel a little familiar.)

Which race will we feature tomorrow? Come back to find out. And don't forget to pick up the paper this Wednesday for our entire roster.


THIS ONE looks easy, right?

Corn. Probably genetically modified.
  • Ashlyak at ml.wikipedia
  • Corn. Probably genetically modified.

Measure 92 would require companies to label any human foods made through genetic engineering. And since there are a ton of everyday products that use genetically modified organisms (the bulk of soy and corn production in the US involves GMOs), both proponents and opponents of the measure agreed that roughly 70 percent of your supermarket would suddenly sprout conspicuous labels reading “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

Finally! A real sense of how many GMOs you’re consuming. A better ability to make an informed choice about what you put into your body, and when.

Adding to the measure’s appeal, its opponents are running on an avalanche of cash from shadowy multinational corporations like Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Hormel—enthusiasm that's made Measure 92 the most moneyed race in Oregon’s history. You have every reason to question these companies’ interest in this matter, and every reason to doubt that interest has to do with your well-being.

And yet, after much debate, we’re coming down just on the “no” side of this issue.

The essential problem is dishonesty. Measure 92’s proponents argue it’s all about helping consumers make an informed choice. They insisted in our interview they have no problem with GMOs, and no other motives, ulterior or not, besides the spread of information.

But this campaign—like identical efforts that narrowly failed in California and Washington recently—is quite clearly a bid to get food companies to abandon GMOs, a backdoor attempt at altering our agricultural landscape.

See, the science we possess on GMOs indicates they’re almost certainly safe to eat. Indeed, the Yes on 92 representatives who attended our endorsement interview acknowledged purchasing and eating GMO products all the time. But there’s a clear motive for wanting “conspicuous” labeling on those foods, and it’s not to remind consumers that GMOs are harmless. Without sufficient context, a label is likely to sow doubt or apprehension in shoppers who assume it’s a warning, and that there’s a reason they should be warned.

To be clear, we loathe the state of industrial farming, and acknowledge that GMOs have taken it in the wrong direction. GMO technology in corn and soybeans has increased pesticide use, encouraged monocultures, and led to the rise of pests that are immune to poisons. If you can’t stomach the thought of agreeing with Monsanto, or abetting Coca-Cola, we understand completely.

But there are more straightforward ways of trying to change America’s problematic farming trends than a labeling measure that takes pains to protest it’s not actually out to do that.

And if you really, really care about how your food’s produced, there are already labels for you. Any time you buy something labeled organic or “Non-GMO Project Verified” you can be sure you’re not contributing to those problematic issues.