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Kucinich in Oregon to Stump for Food Labeling

PHOTO: In Vermont, legislation to label foods made with genetically modified ingredients is set to go into effect in 2016 but is being challenged in court. There are November ballot measures in Oregon and Colorado. Photo courtesy Center for Food Safety.
PHOTO: In Vermont, legislation to label foods made with genetically modified ingredients is set to go into effect in 2016 but is being challenged in court. There are November ballot measures in Oregon and Colorado. Photo courtesy Center for Food Safety.
October 24, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - After two terms in Congress and a couple of Democratic nominations for president, former Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich is putting his campaign skills to work in Oregon.

Kucinich and his wife are making appearances this week in support of Measure 92, to require labeling foods made with genetically modified ingredients.

About 15 years ago, he introduced similar legislation in Congress but in his words, "the Monsantos of the world" didn't let it get very far, steering the debate to focus instead on GMOs' potential to grow more food.

"The FDA in 1992 made the decision GMOs were the functional equivalent of conventional food, but no one knows how they arrived at that conclusion," Dennis Kucinich said. "Knowing Washington the way I do, it was more about 'dough-re-mi' than about GMO."

The Food and Drug Administration hasn't changed its policy on GE food safety. Kucinich believes food science has advanced since the 1990s and food policy also should be updated in light of potential new concerns. He sees the GE labeling debate as an evolution of consumers' rights that started with the push to get nutritional labels on food packaging.

Elizabeth Kucinich is invested in this issue as well, as policy director for the nonprofit Center for Food Safety. She sees genetic ingredient labeling as part of a larger debate about industrial farming and pesticide use that affects soil and water quality, plants and wildlife, although she acknowledges it isn't top-of-mind with most people when they're grocery shopping.

"What you choose to put on your plate is the most important choice of your day, and of your life because it doesn't only affect your immediate health," she said. "You're also choosing the way of the planet. We want to make sure we can continue to feed the world, but not only feed them – nourish them."

Originally from England, Elizabeth Kucinich says GE labeling is the norm in Europe. In Oregon, farmers have been vocal on both sides of the Measure 92 debate.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR