By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog
You are what you eat.
And proponents of labeling genetically modified foods say you should know what’s in that food. So they’ve put up a ballot measure in Washington state that would require food with genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled. Voters will decide on the labeling requirement Nov. 5.
Food industry representatives who oppose the labeling say it stigmatizes GMO foods, misleading people into believing they are unhealthy or unsafe. Genetically modified crops are basically foods that have been engineered to resist herbicides and fight off insects. The jury is still out on GMOs in the public realm, but they’re legal and several scientific and health organizations across the globe have deemed them safe to consume.
Here’s what you need to know going into the election:
National food fight: This fight is being played out in Washington state, but it’s a national one. The Yes on I-522 campaign (pro-GMO labeling) has raised more than $4.6 million while the No on I-522 has raised $17.1 million. Most of the money for both groups is coming from outside of Washington, according to Spokesman Review. Even more so on the part of the no campaign, which has raised a mere $350 in Washington.
A lot of the opposition comes from food giants like Monsanto and other agribusinesses while the pro-labeling push has received a large contribution and push from Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One, a California soap company.
Same fight, different state: These same groups tossing tomatoes at each other have carried their fight over from California, where voters rejected a GMO labeling initiative last year by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent.
GMOs abound: A lot of commodity crops in the United States are genetically modified. Most feed corn, sugar beets, cotton and soybeans are genetically modified, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Costs to rise: Scientists reported last week the initiative could drive up the cost of food in Washington. The Washington State Academy of Sciences said there could be consumer costs that go hand in hand with the GMO labeling initiative if it passes. The study doesn’t say exactly how much the food costs would go up, according to The Olympian.
Pro-labeling in the lead: An Elway poll conducted in September showed the pro- labeling of GMO foods group in the lead, with 66 percent of voters saying they supported I-522. But Stuart Elway, who owns the firm that conducted the independent poll, told USA Today those numbers could change closer to voting time as the ad campaigns on both sides heat up.
Contact Shelby Sebens at Shelby@NorthwestWatchdog.org
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