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Organic Consumers Association

GMO Labeling Proposal Headed to Ballot in Washington State

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Washington News Page.

The fight is not over to get "Frankenfood" labeled, as roughly 350,000 signatures have been successfully delivered to the Secretary of State's office in Washington state petitioning for a ballot measure that would require the labeling of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). According to The Spokesman-Review, the legislature in the Evergreen State will have the first pass at enacting the bill. And if the legislature rejects it, voters will then have the opportunity to pass the bill themselves with majority support, which would make Washington the first state in the union to recognize the divine right of human beings to know what is contained in the foods we eat.

The bill is known as I-522, or "The People's Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," and it very closely resembles Proposition 37 in California, which failed to pass with voter majority by a very slim margin. Like Prop. 37, I-522 is fairly simple and straightforward: if a food product contains ingredients that were derived using genetic modification, or if a food product itself was produced using genetic modification, then it must be clearly labeled at the retail level for the benefit of consumers.

"Beginning July 1, 2015, any food offered for retail sale in Washington is misbranded if it is, or may have been, entirely or partly produced with genetic engineering and that fact is not disclosed," explains I-522. It goes on to explain which food products are included in this requirement -- raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds. You can read the complete text of I-522 for yourself here: http://www.labelitwa.org/read_i_522

Like in California with Prop. 37, the goal of I-522 in Washington is to increase transparency by requiring that food producers fully disclose the contents of their products to consumers. The bill does not make any declarations one way or the other about the safety of GMOs (though recent studies speak for themselves on this matter), but rather addresses the complete lack of honesty and full disclosure as it concerns hidden GMOs throughout the food supply.

"They're not being warned, they're being informed," explained local resident Chris McManus to The Spokesman-Review about the bill's intent for consumers. "A little bit more information never hurt anybody about the foods they eat."


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