I-522 Supporters Tout Initiative As A Way To Assist Region's Food Exporters
By Steve Jackson
Promoters of a Washington state voter’s initiative to require labeling of Genetically Modified food products say such a requirement would be of great assistance to agricultural exporters in the state.
I-522 would require that food products bear a label informing the consumer if they contain any genetically modified organisms, or “GMOs”.
The public signature gathering campaign for the bill was successful, and while it allowed the Washington state legislature an opportunity to decide its fate, it had language that mandated that if the legislature took no action, the initiative would automatically go to a vote of the people in November. While lawmakers did hold committee hearings in both houses, no action was taken.
Campaign promoters are looking forward to a public vote, and say the measure would be a boon to the regions farmers who are concerned about foreign markets where labeling of GMO products is required.
Elizabeth Larter is with the Yes on I-522 campaign.
“Ensuring that we do have labels, particularly for crops like wheat, which is currently not genetically engineered, but could be in the future, could help our trade export market," she says.
The GMO wheat issue is of special concern to Washington wheat growers right now, after experimental strains of GMO wheat were discovered growing in Oregon. That discovery focused international attention on U.S. exports of wheat, and Japan announced it would suspend some wheat imports from the Pacific Northwest.
Larter says 64 countries worldwide require GMO labeling. In the US, Maine and Conneticut legislatures have passed GMO labeling, but enacting the law is contingent on a certain number of other states following suit.
The GMO labeling requirement will come before Washington voters in November.