Initiative Seeks GMO Food Labels in Washington State

How would you vote on labeling genetically engineered food?

You might have seen petitions about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, circulating at your local grocery store in recent months. Now, some 350,000 signatures have been submitted to Washington state seeking food labeling for genetically engineered foods.

The sponsor of Initiative 522, Chris McManus, on Thursday submitted well more than the required 241,153 signatures of registered state voters.

The measure would require any food sold in Washington state and made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled.

This comes two months after California voters rejected a similar measure that pitted food safety advocates against agricultural and biotechnology giants in a roughly $55 million advertising battle.

According to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office, here’s what’s next:

It will go first to lawmakers, who begin their 105-day regular session on Jan. 14. Legislators have three options for each initiative: pass it into law as is, let it go to the November ballot for a public vote, or send it and a legislative alternative to the ballot and let voters decide which, if either, they want to support. The typical initiative to the Legislature takes the second path, going on to the General Election ballot. One or both houses may hold public hearings.

You can read the full initiative text here or click on the PDF attached to this story.

What do you think of the measure? Should Washington state label genetically modified foods? Tell us why in the comments.

Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 07:40 AM
Chances are, if you think genetically modified foods are somehow dangerous or "bad," you don't understand what they are. It is definitely fashionable to be opposed to GM foods, but it is silly pseudoscience. http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2013/01/gmo_food_labeling_initiative_e.php http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/01/03/mark_lynas_environmentalist_who_opposed_gmos_admits_he_was_wrong.html This is what happens when you have scientifically illiterate voters.
Susan Milke January 07, 2013 at 05:20 PM
I disagree Edward. Check into Monsanto's history and record. There is plenty of research to show that GMOs are bad for the health of individuals and animals. How do we know that the "scientist" who was wrong wasn't bought off? Why did the giant food companies in California spend so much money trying to defeat the initiative? And why can't they just label them so we know and decide if we want to put them in our bodies or not?
Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 05:46 PM
No, I am sorry, but there isn't "plenty of evidence." There have been a couple ambiguous studies that have been widely challenged by other scientists. You don't know that any individual isn't "bought off," but that's why you have to look at the consensus. Unless you believe all scientists are bought off, in which case you are treading into tinfoil-hat territory. The consensus among actual researchers is that GM foods are safe. Now, if you want to talk about Monsanto's business practices, I might be you ally, but that isn't a question science can address. Also, the person who changed his mind isn't a scientist, which is the point of the article. He didn't understand the science, and was scared of it for no reason. Now he understands the science, and is not. Here's another link to an article that explains why anti-GMO activists are the "global warming deniers" of the political left: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/09/are_gmo_foods_safe_opponents_are_skewing_the_science_to_scare_people_.html
Local Guy January 07, 2013 at 06:01 PM
I have no issue with GMO's per se. However, I consider Monsanto's business practices, particularly in regards to soybeans, to be both shameful and criminal (monopolistic). And if this is a natural extension of what is to come in the GMO arena, then I come down as opposed...
Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 06:19 PM
As I said above, that's a different story.
Susan Milke January 07, 2013 at 06:44 PM
So they are not harmful you say, than just label them on all foods, so we can make an intelligent decision about what we put in our bodies. I don't buy that it will make food more expensive, the other ingredients in food are already on the label! There is a reason they don't want them labeled, find out the reason and you find out the truth.
Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Yes, there is a reason. And the reason is that some people make decisions based on rampant misinformation and woeful scientific illiteracy. That is the reason, and that is the truth.
Susan Milke January 07, 2013 at 07:41 PM
So the reason is we are too stupid to know the facts. I think you underestimate the American public. These are the same people who brought us Agent Orange, DDT, High Fructose corn syrup, bromine, aspartame, chemical fertilizers and the list goes on and on. I just want them labeled so I know what I am putting in my body.
Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 09:55 PM
I didn't suggest people are stupid. I said they are scientifically illiterate, and they are. Here are some examples: 1. Only about 15% of Americans accept naturalistic evolution of humans. Virtually 100% of biologists do. 2. Many Americans believe MSG is harmful, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 3. 25% of Americans believe in astrology, that is, the position of the stars influences peoples' lives. No scientists accept this as plausible. 4. Less than half of Americans accept that anthopogenic global warming is occurring (despite near unanimity among scientists). 5. Around 40% of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was involved in planning, financing, or carrying out 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 09:55 PM
The rest of your comment illustrates your own ignorance of the history of these substances, and their real danger: Agent Orange was manufactured by Dow Chemical and Monsanto, but it was discovered by a PhD candidate, and developed by biological warfare scientists working for the government. Nobody now doubts that it was a terrible thing, but I don't understand its link to GMOs. DDT was created by an Austrian chemist in 1874, and its insecticidal use wasn't discovered until 1939 by a Swiss scientist. Like it or not, it has saved immense amounts of human suffering and death, even if you only count its use against malaria. It is still used for this purpose in some places, but not in the US. HFCS was invented by a Japanese government scientist in 1967. Bromine is an element, and it was discovered in the 19th century. Why did you add it to this list? Aspartame was invented by a scientist working for G.D. Searle & Company, and has proven to be one of the safest food additives ever created. If you believe otherwise, you are discarding decades of scientific research in favor of your own beliefs, which is exactly what I was saying Americans are prone to do. Chemical fertilizers have been in use since the 1800s (invented by Swiss and German scientists), and have made today's huge human population possible.
Susan Milke January 07, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Since I have never ever answered a poll with any of those questions, maybe the polls they conduct are skewed? Have you every answered a poll? Who bases other people's knowledge on polls? The man who discovered Agent Orange never intended it to be used the way the military used it. It was to make soybeans grow faster. Sometimes technology gets in the wrong hands is my point. That there are individuals in this world that will do anything to make a buck and damn the consequences. Why don't you look at the cancer increases in our country. In my neighborhood alone, out of 40 homes, seven women that I know of have some form of cancer, two have died. Aspartame, really, it caused cancer in lab rats in the 70s. That was buried. Also Donald Rumsfeld ran the company then. Interesting. Bromine is an element and they put it in citrus drinks. Should it go in our body? Sounds like you trust everything corporation and governments tell us. Because they have never done anything wrong, right?!
Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 10:41 PM
It sounds like you don't understand polling either. "Sounds like you trust everything corporation and governments tell us." No, I trust science, and the scientific process, more than I trust my own uninformed beliefs, which is the entire point of my response to this article.
Susan Milke January 07, 2013 at 11:05 PM
And I believe that nature is smarter than people or scientists and I trust with my own "informed" beliefs. And going back to the original point. Label them and I can decide whether I want to put it in my body or not. Which is all the initiative is asking them to do.
Edward A. January 08, 2013 at 02:17 AM
I actually have no problem with requiring labeling of GM ingredients. What I have a problem with is the pseudoscience, misinformation, paranoia and ignorance that are used to justify it. The sponsor of this bill, who runs and advertising agency, when told (by a scientist) that he didn't understand the issue, said: "Well, you know, I’m not a scientist. I work in media. Those kinds of questions I’ll have to defer to later in the campaign." In other words, he has little idea what he is talking about. He is on a "religious" crusade, and, like most crusaders, is intent on ignoring evidence that contradicts his cherished belief that GMO are inherently bad.


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