Donohoe MT. Argument in support of Oregon General Election Ballot Measure 27 to
require labeling of genetically modified foodstuffs. Voters’ pamphlet, Oregon General
Election, November, 2002 (written on behalf of the Board of Directors, Oregon Chapter
of Physicians for Social Responsibility). Available at
ARGUMENT IN FAVOR
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group of doctors committed to human
health, patient safety, scientific honesty and environmental protection, supports a yes vote
on Measure 27.
Less than a decade since their introduction, two-thirds of products in U.S. supermarket
shelves contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Only one-third of Americans are
aware that their foods contain GE ingredients. Multiple polls show that 85% to 95% of
citizens favor labeling.
Currently, food substances are labeled for vitamin, mineral, caloric and fat content;
wines containing sulfites warn those allergic. The European Union requires labeling;
many countries ban import of GE foods from the US; other countries have or are
considering labeling laws and import bans. Unfortunately, US regulatory agencies rely on
safety tests done by GE product-producing companies.
Risks of GE foods include: toxicities from new proteins (deadly eosinophilia-myalgia
syndrome in consumers of GE tryptophan supplements); altered nutritional value; transfer
of antibiotic resistance genes, contributing to antibiotic resistance; increased pesticide use
when pests develop resistance to GE food toxins; herbicide-resistant "superweeds"; non-
target insects dying from exposure to pesticide-resistant crops, with ripple effects on
other species; GE plants and animals interbreeding with and contaminating wild
populations; GE plants outcompeting, or driving to extinction, wild varieties; GE plants
adversely altering soil quality; decreased agricultural biodiversity; and corporate control
of agriculture, with the transmogrification of farmers into "bioserfs."
Labeling of GE foods will prevent dangerous allergic attacks (as occurred in
unsuspecting consumers of soybeans modified with Brazil Nut genes); allow vegetarians
to avoid plants injected with animal genes; and allow concerned individuals to avoid
ingesting milk from cattle injected with recombinant BGH, which increases levels of
potentially-carcinogenic IGF-1 in milk.
Labeling will increase public awareness of genetic engineering, allow us freedom to
choose what we eat based on individual willingness to confront risk, and ensure a healthy
public debate over the merits of genetic modification of foodstuffs.
Board of Directors
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
(This information furnished by Martin Donohoe, MD, FACP, for Oregon Physicians for