GM vote

Washington State voters turn down GMO food labels

Washington State residents voted on Nov 5 against a law that would require labels on genetically modified food. The measure was defeated in a 55% to 45% vote, with support edging out opposition in only three of the state’s 39 counties.

The law — I-522 — would have required labels on GMO food and seeds sold within the state, with exceptions for a handful of categories including alcoholic beverages and certified organic foods. The label would have had to include the phrase “genetically engineered” or “produced with genetic engineering”.

Had it passed, Washington would have been the first state in the nation to require labelling of GM foods. A similar initiative failed in California last year.

Proponents touted the need for transparency in food sales, arguing that companies already label such foods in 64 countries that require it. Opponents complained that, due to the exclusions, the measure would fail to achieve its own goals and that the cost of enforcement would place additional burdens on taxpayers.

The campaign against the initiative drew $22 million in fundraising — mostly from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and agricultural sciences companies such as Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience, who outspent supporters 3 to 1, according to the Associated Press. Ads from food industry groups said that the initiative would have raised food prices.

Source: Washington Post, Associated Press