GMO roast in Denver calls for labeling, media coverage

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Posted Thu, May 1, 2014

Protesters organized by We Are Change Colorado rallied in front of the Denver Post Tuesday afternoon.  They called for mandatory labeling of products containing GMOs in Colorado, as well as more media coverage.  Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu

Protesters organized by We Are Change Colorado rallied in front of The Denver Post Tuesday afternoon. They called for mandatory labeling of products containing GMOs in Colorado, as well as more media coverage. [Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu]

DENVER – A group of 15-20 people gathered for a GMO roast in front of The Denver Post building Tuesday.  It was sponsored by We Are Change Colorado, part of a national, grassroots activism organization.

Organizers said they called for more media attention and hoped to raise awareness of what GMOs are and to promote a Colorado ballot initiative that calls for labeling GMOs in food, sponsored by Right to Know Colorado – GMO.

“We Are Change Colorado decided to come out here today because the Denver post has failed to talk about the Colorado Right to Know GMO labeling petition,” said activist Bruce Baumann, of We Are Change Colorado.

Larry Cooper of Right to Know GMO – Colorado, who did not attend the GMO roast, said he filed a proposal for a ballot initiative with the State Legislative Council.  The initiative calls for mandatory labeling of food products containing GMOs in Colorado.

The path to get an initiated proposal onto the statewide ballot consists of many steps, including a review and comment session and opportunity for opponents to appeal the proposal.

Brian Loma of March Against Monsanto - Denver, explains what GMOs are to men passing the GMO roast Tuesday.  GMOs are organisms that have been genetically altered, often by the addition of DNA from bacteria or other plants or animals.  Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu

Brian Loma, center, of March Against Monsanto – Denver, explains what GMOs are to men passing the GMO roast Tuesday. GMOs are organisms that have been genetically altered, often by the addition of DNA from bacteria or other plants or animals. [Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu]

Cooper’s Colorado ballot proposal 48, “Labeling Genetically Modified Food,” successfully defended a challenge at the Colorado Supreme Court in March 2014.  It was approved to collect the more than 80,000 signatures needed to appear on the statewide ballot this fall.

Bauman said The Denver Post had not covered the issue since that Supreme Court victory in March.

However, Denver Post Director of Newsroom Operations, Linda Shapley, said, “We know that there’s something planned, but we just can’t cover everything.  If their petition makes the ballot there will certainly be more coverage on it.”

Currently, the Colorado Secretary of State’s website shows that only one ballot initiative has made it through the process to be on the official fall ballot.

Meanwhile, 145 proposed initiatives have been brought before the State Legislative Council and are either in the process of approval, or have been withdrawn.

GMOs are organisms genetically modified at the DNA level.  Kris Custer of We Are Change Colorado said GMOs are not the same as natural genetics, but include outside DNA injected into the natural genetic material.

Monsanto is a major corporation that produces many genetically modified seeds, as well as other products.

“Basically, Monsanto is playing Mother Nature,” Custer said.

Protestors gathered in front of the Denver Post at Colfax and Broadway Tuesday afternoon to urge mandatory labeling for products with GMOs in Colorado.  Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu

Protestors gathered in front of the Denver Post at Colfax and Broadway Tuesday afternoon to urge mandatory labeling for products with GMOs in Colorado. Photo by [Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu]

Custer said Monsanto has also trademarked seeds, creating difficulty for some farmers.

“We’re trying to educate The Denver Post and other media as well, you know, that this labeling bill is in the process of getting put on the ballot.”

The GMO roast included street theater and music, provided by George Peele, of Denver, who was dressed as a honey bee.

George Peele of Denver dressed as a bee at Tuesday's GMO roast because he said GMOs can be harmful to bees.  The protestors were organized by We Are Change Colorado, a subsidiary of the national organization by the same name.  Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu

George Peele of Denver dressed as a bee at Tuesday’s GMO roast because he said GMOs can be harmful to bees. The protestors were organized by We Are Change Colorado, a subsidiary of the national organization by the same name. [Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu]

Worldwide, bee populations are in decline and some research has linked the decreasing numbers to increased chemical exposure that is prevalent in modern agriculture.

“We chose a GMO roast – a fun, family-friendly environment … so that people can come out and learn about GMOs,” Bauman said.

Matt Steen who saw the group while he was working across the street said this was the first he learned of the ballot initiative.

“I think people need to be educated about what is in their food,” Steen said, “rather than just eating it because it’s there and saying, ‘Oh whatever, it doesn’t matter I’ll eat it right now.'”

Learn more:

Colorado initiatives submitted for review and comment for 2014 ballot – 

http://www.leg.state.co.us/LCS/Initiative%20Referendum/1314InitRefr.nsf/acd7e51d3fc2b60b87257a3700571f9f?OpenView

We Are Change Colorado

http://wearechangecolorado.org

Right to Know Colorado – GMO

http://www.righttoknowcolorado.org

 

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About Melanie J. Rice

Melanie Rice is a journalism student at MSU Denver, with an emphasis on both visual and written content.

View all posts by Melanie J. Rice

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  1. Food fight heats up in Colorado | Metro Post-Telegraph - May 24, 2014

    […] issue recently got attention locally when supporters rallied for GMO labeling in Denver.  The Colorado ballot initiative, sponsored by Right to Know Colorado GMO, a local grass […]

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