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Organic Consumers Association

Close Results on GE Labeling in Washington State Raises Public Awareness of the Trouble with Modified Crops

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

Washington, DC--November 25, 2013.  With nearly all the votes counted for Washington State's Initiative 522, results show the measure defeated by a razor thin margin. After somber reports on Election Day had the measure trailing by 11%, supporters of I-522 urged patience as ballots continued to stream in (Washington runs an all-mail voting system). The race tightened up significantly, but ultimately succumbed to a 49%Y-51%N margin. Despite the results, Washington State's initiative made incredible progress at raising awareness of the adverse health and environmental impacts associated with genetically engineered (GE) agriculture.  

A number of factors also worked against the Yes campaign during the final weeks leading up to Election Day, including an enormous influx of money from agrichemical companies and food manufacturers, which financed an advertising blitz claiming the initiative would raise the cost of food. The placement of the measure on an "off-year" election also drove down voter turnout. Yeson522 co-chair Trudy Bialic explains, "There was lower than expected voter turnout this year. Despite being outspent 3-to-1, we are projecting winning 49% of the vote. We are disappointed with the results, but the polling is clear that Washingtonians support labeling and believe they have a right to know. This fight isn't over. We will be back in 2016 to challenge and defeat the out-of-state corporations standing in the way of our right to know. "

The campaign to label GE foods is far from over, and consumer and environmental groups are vowing to continue the fight until consumers have the facts on whether the food they are purchasing contains GE ingredients. Upcoming battlegrounds for GE labeling includes possible legislation in Vermont, Hawaii, and New York, and a ballot measure in Oregon for the 2014 mid-term elections, where turn-out will be higher. However, these efforts assume inaction on the part of the federal government, as Senator Barbra Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter Defazio (D-OR) have introduced companion legislation that would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to "clearly label" all GE ingredients. The bills, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, H.R. 1699 and S. 809, have 48 cosponsors in the House and 14 in the Senate.          


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