Washington state is the next battleground in an ongoing effort by food activists to get products containing genetically engineered ingredients labeled. California voters rejected a similar initiative 51.4% to 48.6% in a bruising and expensive election in 2012.
Initiative 522 goes before voters Nov. 5. It would require that foods containing ingredients from genetically engineered plants be labeled as such. Some opponents believe these foods are dangerous to humans, though there is little scientific evidence of that. Others feel large agribusinesses such as Monsanto, which sell these seeds, have too much control over the food supply.
"We believe that we have a right to know what's in our food," said Elizabeth Larter, the Seattle-based communications director for the Yes on 522 campaign. "This campaign is not about whether GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are good or bad; this is really just providing more information for consumers."
The labeling effort is being funded by grass-roots donations and a large contribution from Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One, a California soap company founded in the 1960s. It is known for labels featuring fine print advocating world peace and admonitions to dilute the liquid soap for multiple uses.
"This is about chemical companies buying up the seed companies," David Bronner, president of the company, said on a video prominently placed on its Web site. Opponents to labeling "understand that if they lose in Washington state, game over," he said of why the company is supporting the initiative and encouraging others to do so.
Legislation in 26 States
The Washington state effort is part of an ongoing fight by those opposed to genetically engineered crops to push for labeling.
"In 2013 alone, there have been 26 states that have introduced labeling legislation," said Katey Parker of the Just Label It coalition, a pro-labeling group based in Washington, D.C.
Squaring off on the other side is a coalition of food manufacturers and seed producers, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience, according to the No on 522 Coalition.
Those opposed to labeling say it will falsely mislead consumers into thinking that products that contain genetically engineered ingredients are "somehow different, unsafe or unhealthy," said Brian Kennedy of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a food industry group based in Washington, D.C.
"I-522 is a complex, costly and misleading initiative that will raise grocery costs for Washington state consumers at a time when few can afford it," he said.
Caitlin Carter of Maple Valley, Wash., said she wants labeling. "I feel I have a right to know the source of my food." (continued...)
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Posted: 2013-10-17 @ 1:50am PT
Definitely no to GMO food products. It's bad for our health!