I plan to vote YES on Initiative-522 this week, the ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods here in Washington State. The new law would mean companies need to re-label their foods with a grace period of 18 months. This measure gives us an opportunity to make food labels clearer and more accurate.
I don’t like misinformation. I was raised to think critically and to make up my own mind on everything from what I eat to what I wear. Unfortunately, right now there is no real way to know whether a food in the grocery store is genetically modified or not. Without labeling, there is no choice, there is only one path, and for many of us it is a path that we don’t want to be on.
Sixty-four countries already label genetically engineered foods, and several other states have also recently passed labeling laws. Major food chain Whole Foods is planning to label regardless of the law.
Perhaps they can see the writing on the wall: consumers are smart, and they want to know what is in their food so that they can make their own choice in the matter.
The voice against the measure, led by big a group of big food corporations, is using fear tactics and saying that food prices will be higher and that labeling is difficult, which are both false. They have dumped millions of dollars into their slick advertising campaign to try and prevent Washington citizens from passing this measure.
The truth is that American food companies that sell to the EU and many Asian countries already label their GMO products for those markets. Moreover, after Europe began labeling genetically engineered foods, David Byrne, former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament, stated that GMO labeling “did not result in increased costs, despite the horrifying predictions of some interests.”
We already label sugar levels, sodium levels, whether our salmon is wild or farm-raised, and GMO foods that need to be exported to any of the 64 countries that require labeling. These labels give shoppers the opportunity to choose for themselves which groceries they want to buy. Regardless of your opinion on the merits or lack thereof for genetically modified foods, we all go to the same grocery store, and having labels gives more information to those who want it. I believe that the people of Washington State are responsible and they can decide for themselves whether they care if they are eating GMO foods or not--but again, without the label, there are no choices for consumers.
Isn’t this the very definition of democracy: living in concert with each other and making adjustments for those that live in our community side by side with us?
There is a large, growing voice that wants GMO labeling, and now is the time to make the adjustments on our food labels to accommodate those who want it.
I will be voting YES on I-522 when I receive my mail-in ballot this week.