Getting to know Initiative 522

Ever wonder what went into that protein bar you’re eating? Or that pasta you bought at the grocery store last weekend?

Fellow Washingtonians seem to have this question on their minds and are attempting to get it answered with Initiative 522 , which would require food producers containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to label their products.

Here is a quick break down of the initiative (adapted from the Washington Secretary of State website):

  • Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods containing the language of “genetically engineered”
  • Public has a right to know what is being put into their foods
  • Forty-nine countries outside of the U.S. already label genetically engineered foods
  • Failure to correctly label can result in court action
  • The initiative outlines many of the supporting arguments for GMO labeling–the most prominent is the consumer’s right-to-know idea. Many argue that the healthiness of GMOs is not their main concern, but rather the presence producer-consumer transparency.
    Opponents, however, argue there is a possibility of a poor consumer response to no longer buy GMO-containing products, while simultaneously manufacturing prices of these products will increase due to costs associated with providing the label on their products.

    With the presence of this initiative on the ballots quickly approaching, both supporters and opponents are feeling their feathers a bit ruffled. Large corporations, such as the out-of-state company Monsanto, have launched high priced campaigns encouraging residents to “vote no”.

    According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, some of the biggest supporters are state labor groups, one being the Washington State Labor Council. One person, however, that remains neutral in this heated debate is Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, despite the flood of businesses, organizations and people looking to him to support one side or the other.

    Initiative 522 is far from the first of its kind in the U.S., and whether you choose to vote “no” or “yes” on November 5th, get educated on this bill and how it could effect you in the future.