October 17, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 26

Labeling genetically modified foods is important in I-522

Letters to the Editor

Washington’s 731 certified organic farms are an economic powerhouse, generating $284.4 million in farm gate sales (price paid to farmers) in 2011. According to the USDA, Washington ranks second in the nation for organic farm gate sales, and trade industry data shows the organic industry is creating jobs at four times the national rate.  Published data shows organic farming is more profitable and economically secure than conventional farming over the long term. 

Organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds or genetically engineered livestock feed. I believe that passage of I-522, the labeling law, will increase demand by Washington residents for organically grown food when they learn how much of the food on the market is genetically engineered or contains genetically engineered ingredients. An increase in the demand for organically grown food could provide an economic boost that our state greatly needs. 

Opponents of I-522 say that implementing I-522 could cost $22 million a year. If that were the case, it would cost each of us a little over $3/year.  I can’t think of a better bargain!  Knowing which foods contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) so I can avoid them, if I choose to, is worth a lot more than that to me.   

Opponents also say there’s no need to label GMOs because consumers can simply buy foods labeled “organic” or “non-GMO.” That’s easier said than done. Not all consumers have access to foods labeled organic and non-GMO.  Many foods are non-GMO without being labeled as such, so consumers have no way of knowing which foods they want to avoid and which they want to eat. However, the burden of labeling should not be on the organic or non-GMO producers, but rather the entities that are altering our food. 

I recommend the documentary books/DVDs “The GMO Trilogy,” “Seeds of Deception” and “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives (and others)” by Jeffrey M. Smith. 

Please vote YES on I-522 to protect the economy of our state and our right to choose what we eat.  

Hazel Newkirk

Cheney

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