Genetically Modified Food Labeling to Receive First Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Review

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The GMO labeling initiative 48 selected for evaluation by 20-member citizen jury to provide fair, clear, and trustworthy information before the November vote.

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"The genetically modified food labeling initiative was selected for review because it could have broad impact on citizens across the state for years to come." - Cathy Shull, Colorado CIR Advisory Board member

The Advisory Board for the Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) Pilot today announced it has selected the genetically modified (GMO) food labeling initiative 48 for the first statewide CIR review process in Colorado. The selection is pending verification of signatures for ballot qualification by the Colorado Secretary of State.

The Colorado CIR Advisory Board, made up of a diverse cross section of Colorado leaders, selected genetically modified (GMO) food labeling from four initiatives expected on the November ballot.

“The Colorado CIR is an opportunity for Coloradans to test the effectiveness of the citizen jury model for the evaluation of ballot measures, which can be complex and confusing for voters,” said Cathy Shull, advisory board member and executive director of Progressive 15, a public policy organization representing Northeast Colorado. “The genetically modified food labeling initiative was selected for review because it could have broad impact on citizens across the state for years to come.”

The GMO food labeling initiative asks voters to change the Colorado Revised Statutes to require food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled "Produced With Genetic Engineering" starting on July 1, 2016.

The GMO food labeling initiative will be evaluated Sept. 7-10 by a 20-member citizen panel meeting at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. The randomly selected and demographically balanced group will hear from proponents and opponents of the measure, as well as neutral experts. On the last day, the panel will provide a “Citizens’ Statement” of facts and arguments for and against the initiative.

“GMO labeling is a complex issue that has garnered national attention,” said Gail Klapper, advisory board member and director of Colorado Forum, an organization comprised of business and civic leaders from across the state who work to achieve good public policy results for Colorado. “The Advisory Board felt that this issue deserved careful analysis. The outcome of this vote will have an impact on all Coloradans. The Citizens’ Initiative Review is designed to give Coloradans a resource for balanced, fair, and understandable information before they vote.”

Proven highly effective and helpful to voters by independent evaluators and adopted into law in Oregon, the CIR is a new and innovative way for Coloradans to evaluate a ballot measure at election time. The Colorado CIR pilot will also study the impact and reach of the state’s neutral State Ballot Information Booklet, or “Blue Book.”

The Citizens’ Initiative Review was championed in Oregon by the nonprofit Healthy Democracy, which is now conducting pilots in two other Western states (Colorado and Arizona).
Moderated by professional facilitators, the Colorado CIR provides 20 citizen panelists with:

  •     Adequate time to examine both sides of the issues (3 1/2 days of public deliberation)
  •     The opportunity to directly discuss the issue with information directly from the proponents and opponents of the ballot initiative
  •     The ability to call on neutral policy experts to answer questions and provide additional information

Different from Oregon, the Colorado pilot Citizens’ Statement will not be published in the state’s voter guide, the Blue Book, because doing so would require legislative action. Instead, the panel’s statement will be published at for all voters to read and share.

No state monies will be used for the pilot project, and all costs are privately funded through charitable foundations and individuals.

To learn more about the Colorado Citizens’ Initiative Review Pilot and read the resulting Citizens’ Statement before voting, visit and follow the project on Twitter at @ColoradoCIR and Facebook at

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Stacey Hartmann
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