Uncover food: I522 works to label genetically engineered products

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

The opposition claims that costs will rise. The proposition cites updated packaging as routine business costs. Money seems to be at the heart of Washington State Initiative 522, a measure that would require food labels to specify whether or not foods are genetically engineered.

Opponents of the “Washington-only” measure claim that this is a simple case of bureaucracy. I522 would create unnecessary governmental regulation that exists nowhere else in the nation. What the opposition fails to mention is special interest groups and corporations spent millions of dollars, in recent years, to defeat similar measures in other states, such as prop 37 in California. Furthermore, similar regulations are in place in several countries outside of the United States.

Proponents of I522 purport that the costs are minimal, and that regulation would not be more bureaucratic as similar regulations are already in place to determine fresh caught or farm raised salmon, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, etc.

Let’s look at the facts.

Genetically engineered foods are those created or altered in a laboratory to achieve desired qualities. Their genetic makeup is not seen in their naturally occurring, and healthier, counterparts. According to studies from the United Farm Workers, genetically modified plants are more vulnerable to weather and pests, leading to greater use of fertilizer and pesticides. It is then important to know that many companies that oppose the measure are chemical companies that manufacture these products.

Both sides agree that studies show there are no immediate health concerns caused by GE (genetically engineered) foods, and that in fact these foods do allow growers and consumers to maximize quantity, meaning it is cheaper because it is easier to grow and harvest.

Why is this important to Pacific Northwest Tribes?

In recent years, genetically engineered salmon have been successfully made in labs and farm raised. These fish mature at twice the rate of wild salmon. The FDA has not yet decided if this product will be available to consumers, though if it passes, it would be the first engineered meat to be sold in stores. Currently, only GE crops are on the market. Fishing continues to be a crucial industry for northwest tribes, and the new GE fish stand to threaten the market. Without a market, the native fishing industry would se a drastic decline.

I522 does not stop any of this from happening, it only requires labeling. The “Yes on 522” campaign says repeatedly that this shouldn’t be a hindrance to business as usual. The largest appeal to the public is consumers have the right to make informed decisions about their food choices, and I522 is all about information. It does not prevent future operations, nor does it stop current ones.

Washington State Initiative 522 will be on the November ballot.

Sources: http://factsabout522.com



What’s a GMO? And Should Washington Food Labels Warn Us About Them?


BY RACHEL BELLE  on July 31, 2013


Good day, class. Today we’re going to learn about GMOs. Those three little letters have been in the news a lot lately, and most people don’t really know what it means. For example, today in our show prep meeting, I told the guys I was doing a story on GMOs and Ron said:

“What’s the ‘O’ stand for? Genetically Modified…O?”

Organism. Genetically Modified Oganism. It’s also called GE, Genetically Engineered.

This November, Washingtonians will vote on I-522 to decide if foods and seeds containing GMOs should be labeled at grocery and home and garden stores.

Trudy Bialic is director of public affairs for PCC Natural Markets. She wants the labeling. “Essentially all GMOs are either tolerating a pesticide or producing their own pesticide and insecticide. It’s engineered with properties that make the produce its own insecticide. You are eating a registered pesticide.”

GMOs can currently be found in some zucchini and yellow squash and sweet corn, which means they often show up in processed foods that contain corn syrup. But Trudy isn’t taking a stand on whether GMOs are good or bad. She simply wants the products labeled.

“I-522 is really about labeling,” says Trudy. “It’s not about the science. Labeling gives us transparency and it gives us, as shoppers, the ability to decide for ourselves what’s appropriate and best for us to buy and feed our families.”

But not everyone wants the labels. Dana Beiber is the spokesperson for the No on 522 campaign.

“We already have a labeling system that works perfectly,” Dana says. “For folks who want to avoid foods with GE ingredients in them, they can do so by looking for the organic label. So it’s not necessary. The other reason it’s not necessary to put a warning label on these foods is because we’ve been eating them for decades and we have overwhelming scientific research that tells us that the foods are safe.

She says farmers will either have to spend money on a new label, that’s specific to Washington state, or change the ingredients in their product.

“I think it’s consumers who are really gonna end up paying the bill for us,” Dana says. “We can expect our grocery bills to go up by hundreds of dollars per year to pay for this unnecessary labeling system.”

Trudy says 64 countries and a few other states have already passed GMO labeling laws.

“Two-thirds of Washingtonians support labeling of genetically engineered foods. There are only five corporations that are funding the opposition. Five! They’re protecting their profits. Their concern is not the right to know for all Washingtonians. We all should know what’s in our food.”

We already label products with their fat and sodium content, we list all the ingredients, so what’s the harm in alerting consumers to GMOs?

“The fat or the sodium or whether it has eggs or peanuts in it, all that’s placed on every label throughout the country. It’s also on the back of the product. It’s not a warning label on the front of the product. Make no mistake, 522 is a warning label. In fact, the proponents have said they want it to be a skull and crossbones label on the front of a package.”

The spokesperson from Yes on I-522 says they have no intention of using a skull and crossbones, just a simple couple of words.

Class dismissed.