Later this year, Washington will vote on whether to label genetically modified foods, or GMOs, and the debate is starting to warm up. Those in favor of Initiative 522 say many countries already require labeling and consumers have a right to know what they’re eating; opponents say the labeling would be costly for Washington families and businesses.
The campaign is considered Round 2 in the fight over a similar measure in California last year, which ultimately failed. Experts expect both sides to raise millions, including lots of out-of-state dollars.
Greater Spokane Incorporated announced today that the Board of Trustees voted to oppose I-522, saying it would “create an unnecessary level of bureaucracy and add a cost to comply that would burden farmers, food producers and grocers.” The statement says that any future labeling mandate should be federal so it doesn’t disadvantage Washington businesses.
Here is the full statement:
Initiative 522 is a statewide initiative that calls for the labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering. This would create an unnecessary level of bureaucracy and add a cost to comply that would burden farmers, food producers and grocers. There is no proof that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) cause human harm - only speculation not based on scientific fact.
Food production competes in a world market, and Washington would be the only state with food labeling regulations, placing the state in an uncompetitive situation. If labeling food should be required, it should be mandated at the federal level.
The ramifications of the passage of I-522 are too risky. Smaller companies may choose to abstain from doing business in Washington, which would eliminate products from retail shelves. I-522 would also put many agribusiness companies at a disadvantage by limiting access to the food farmers can produce and sell.