In 2014, voters in Colorado may be the next to decide on mandatory labeling for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.
Larry Cooper, co-chair of the pro-GMO food labeling Right To Know Colorado campaign, told Politico that the group submitted a proposed ballot initiative to the state last week. If approved, Cooper and other supporters of food labeling will start collecting the 85,000 signatures need to get the measure on the November 2014 ballot.
On its website, Right To Know Colorado describes its mission as one that is "built on the foundation that we have the basic right to know what is in our food and what we are feeding our families."
"Food labels list and describe nearly every detailed component of the food product, from the caloric values and processing information, to the fat and protein content and the known allergens," Right To Know's mission statement reads. "Adding a simple label for GMO ingredients would fulfill Colorado consumers’ right to know, enabling them to make educated food purchases and dietary choices."
GMOs are living organisms, including plants and animals, that have had their genetic code altered. The technology is often used in plants, like corn and soybeans, that are engineered to be more drought-tolerant, resistant to herbicides or produce proteins that are toxic to insects, among other traits. The Grocery Manufacturers Association has said that 75 to 80 percent of conventional processed foods in the U.S. contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
Regarding the safety of GMO foods, the World Health Organization says that "different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods."
Supporters of GMO labeling argue that consumers have a right to know what's in their food in order to make informed choices. Opponents have argued that labeling could raise food prices.
Earlier this month, Washington state voters rejected a GMO food labeling ballot initiative, 54-45, according to USA Today. A similar measure was voted down in California in 2012.