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California voters to decide on GE food labeling hose seeking—and those opposing—labeling on genetically engineered foods will be anxiously awaiting the results of a November ballot initiative in California, a pivotal vote that, if approved, could open the doors to a change in the way genetically engineered (GE) foods are marketed across the United States. “This November, consumers in California will cast a critical vote on the right to know whether the foods they enjoy are genetically modified. This is simply a matter of consumer choice,” according to Marion Nestle, professor at the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University and author of the blog T FoodPolitics.com. If passed, the California Right to Know Genetically Modified Food Act Initiative would be the first law in the United States requiring labeling of a wide range of GE foods. It would also give consumers the fundamental right to make informed choices about the food they eat and feed their families. The initiative is simple: it requires labeling of GE foods, which are crops that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, viruses or bacteria. This type of genetic modification occurs in a laboratory and cannot be found in nature. “Prop 37 is about our fundamental right to know what’s in the food we eat Continued on Page 20 Industry continues to discuss organic check-off “All those in favor of getting the organic message out to consumers, raise your forks.” That’s the tagline for the organic industry’s current exploration of a possible research and promotion program (ORPP) for the U.S. organic sector—an exploration that continues to generate industry dialog and discussion. The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) role in this effort is to facilitate the process, including hosting numerous inperson and online meetings with the ultimate goal of reaching an industry-wide decision on whether this is a viable option for the sector. As listed in an accompanying graphic (see Page 4), a number of Town Hall meetings have already been held, with many more scheduled in the coming days. In addition, webinars have been offered both during daytime and evening hours, and more are planned. G UIDING PRINCIPLES The ORPP Steering Committee has developed guiding principles for the proposed research and promotion program effort. The over-riding intent is that such principles will evolve as necessary over time to be responsive to the needs identified by stakeholders of the sector. These are the foundation for a potential research and promotion program: • An ORPP should support and not burden organic farmers first and foremost—assessments would Continued on Page 4 • SUMMER 2012 •