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Washington State Voters Rightly Reject I-522 Food Labeling Proposal

November 6, 2013

False Scare Tactics Fail to Deter Voters

As noted on the Washington state general election page, results revealed that 45.16% of voters were in favor of the initiative, while 54.84% of voters rejected the initiative, thus ending one of the most historically expensive battles over a state mandate. If enacted, Initiative 522 would have required the labeling of genetically engineered foods, as defined in the measure, on the packaging of raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seed and seed stock, or on retail shelf signage for unpackaged products.   

Elizabeth Weise of USA Today, provided an overview of results from last night’s election.  In her article, Washington state voters reject labeling of GMO foods, Elizabeth made a strong point that needs to be empathized to those in favor of labeling, “the Food and Drug Administration does not require foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled because it considers them ‘functionally equivalent’ to conventionally grown crops.”

Likewise, a deftly worded editorial in the Seattle Times summarized the debate as follows:  “Putting what amounts to a warning on the front of packaging about genetically modified organisms is a movement without much movement.”

In a press release, the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO) Jim Greenwood, President and CEO, had this to say about yesterday’s vote on Washington State I-522:
“Just like 27 million voters in California and Oregon, Washington voters saw how this burdensome and deceptive labeling scheme would have created more state bureaucracy, imposed new costs and burdens on local farmers and businesses, and increased food prices for Washington families.

“Food labels should convey valuable and accurate information to consumers.  Mandatory initiatives to label all foods containing genetically modified ingredients would only serve to confuse consumers and raise food prices without any additional benefits.

“We will continue to explore solutions that provide consumers with valuable information about the foods we eat.  One example is the GMO Answers website, where consumers’ questions about GMOs and how our food is grown are asked and answered in a timely manner.  Other informational resources include statements from credible scientific groups such as the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, among others.”

Lastly, the Vote NO on 522 campaign should be recognized for their hard work in providing Washington State constituents with accurate, valid information surrounding the initiative.  In a recent press release, Dana Bieber, spokesperson for NO on 522, stated that,
“This is a clear victory for Washington consumers, taxpayers and family farmers across our state.  Washington voters have soundly rejected this badly written and deceptive initiative.”

I-522 would have provided consumers with inaccurate and misleading information about the foods they buy, while increasing grocery costs to working families by hundreds of dollars per year. And it would have burdened family farmers with costly new regulations and red tape, and exposed them to shake-down, bounty hunter law suits.

“With Washington voters, it always comes down to the facts.  And the facts showed that I-522 was a badly written initiative that deserved to be rejected.”

 More information about I-522 can be found at