About 25 people attended the event, which was hosted by the
The forum featured speakers for and against the two initiatives that qualified for this year's general election.
"Every major science organization in the world has told us GE (genetically engineered) foods are safe and nutritious," she said. "There's no scientific justification for GE labeling. If we can't trust the information that's on a label, then what's it doing on the package?"
Cully accused the biotech industry of trying to confuse voters by claiming that
"If food is required to have an ingredient label today, it would have a label under
Fagan countered that
"Iconic national brands like Wheaties aren't going to put a warning label on their package, so they're going to have to be remade with GE-free ingredients," she said. "That's where the additional cost comes from. If I-522 passes, all our foods are going to be as expensive as organic foods."
The debate over
The measure makes it a misdemeanor crime to harass or interfere with signature gatherers or with anyone who wants to sign an initiative petition. It also gives initiative supporters the right to collect signatures in any public building or public walkway, and extends the amount of time they have to collect signatures from 10 months to 16 months.
"Without the right to collect signatures and sign petitions, there is no functioning initiative and referendum process," Weatherly said. "This initiative provides protection for citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights by participating in the initiative process."
Rembert, however, said state law already protects signature gatherers from harassment and abuse.
"This adds very little real protection," he said. "It seeks to give signature gatherers priority over the rest of us. They want ultra-protection that violates the rights of others."
Store owners, for example, would risk arrest if they tried to keep signature gatherers from harassing customers in front of their stores, Rembert said -- even if the walkway or parking lot was on private property.
"While there's some value in a good initiative, this is also an issue of property ownership," he said. "A shop owner should be free to decide that people can come into his shop without being assaulted by signature gatherers."
Weatherly said he was unaware of any evidence that signature gatherers are particularly prone to abuse and harassment. However, giving them explicit protection under the law would indicate just how important the initiative and referendum process is to
Ballots for the
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