Washington State is Newest GMO Labeling Battleground

January 4, 2013

Activists secured enough signatures to introduce I-522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act."

Proponents of GMO food labeling have secured enough signatures to force a vote on GMO food labeling in Washington State.

I-522, “The People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods sold at retail in the state of Washington. That includes raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, seeds, and seed stocks. If the Washington State Legislature does not adopt I-522 or approve its own version of the initiative, residents will vote on I-522 in the November 2013 general election.

I-522 was introduced in light of potential health issues linked to GMO food consumption, potential for cross-pollination of GMO plant with organic plants, and misinformation to consumers about what they are eating. The authors of the initiative also claim that mandatory labeling of GMO foods could improve U.S. exports to foreign markets wary of GMO foods. GMO labeling is mandatory in 49 countries around the world.

I-522 arrives less than two months after a similar initiative, Prop 37, was defeated in California. At the time of this publication, I-522 had raised just under $330,000, according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Significant financial backing thus far is reportedly coming from the Organic Consumers Association and the Seattle-based cooperative PCC Natural Markets.

Nutritional Outlook will continue reporting on I-522 as more information becomes available.