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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon GMO-Labeling Campaign Submits Signatures

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

Oregon voters may get the chance to require food companies to label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients. Sponsors of an initiative to require that turned in more than 150,000 signatures Wednesday in an effort to make the ballot this November.

The initiative is relatively simple: It would require genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such. Supporters say the public needs the information to make informed choices about what they put in their bodies.

But a similar initiative failed in Washington state last year after the food and agri-business industry spent a state-record amount of money to defeat it. Another effort failed at the ballot in California in 2012.

Sandeep Kaushik of Oregon Right to Know says campaigners have their work cut out for them.

"There's no question in our minds that we are going to be significantly outspent," he said.

It didn't take long for opponents of mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods to respond. A lobbyist for the pesticide industry issued a statement saying the initiative would lead to higher grocery prices.