The real reason behind Initiative 522 isn't genetically modified foods
Letters to the Editor
I-522 is not about whether food should be genetically engineered, but rather whether it should be identified as such. Forty-nine countries, including Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Russia, European Union states and other key U.S. trading partners have laws mandating disclosure of genetic engineering (also known as GMOs, Genetically Modified Organisms) on food labels. Some foreign markets are refusing to buy agricultural products from the United States because our genetically engineered products are not labeled. Resulting trade losses are estimated at billions of dollars.
Washington wheat farmers have gathered thousands of signatures demanding mandatory disclosure for crops produced with genetic engineering, out of concern they will lose their wheat export markets if genetically engineered wheat is approved. Agriculture is Washington’s No. 2 employer and wheat is our No. 1 crop.
I-522 would require disclosure of genetic engineering only on foods that already require labels with ingredients, quantity, nutrition, and other information. That’s why grocery store pizza would require disclosure and delivery pizza would not, for instance. It’s not an inconsistency, but rather simply adding a disclosure on already existing labels by July 1, 2015. Labels are changed frequently, without any price increase to consumers.
United States government scientists have stated that artificial insertion of genetic material into plants, a technique unique to genetic engineering, can cause a variety of significant problems with plant foods, such as increased levels of known toxicants and the introduction of new toxicants and health concerns.
I find it interesting that many American companies sell non-GMO food products to countries that ban genetically engineered foods, but don’t offer those same non-GMO foods to Americans. Yes on I-522 would require labeling of GMOs in Washington, so that we’d have the same choices. Right now we don’t know what we’re eating. Why do we care so little about what we eat? I think it’s because we’re so uninformed about the health and environmental consequences of genetically engineering our food.
For the full text of I-522, call the Secretary of State office at 360-902-4180 and ask to have it mailed or e-mailed to you.