Washington voters on November 5 will decide if the state should require labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms – a proposition that could have national implications if approved.
The measure, called Initiative 522, would require most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, seeds and seed stocks to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale, if produced using genetic engineering as defined.
Meat and dairy raised on a diet of GM feed would be excluded from the labeling requirement, as would some imported foods.
I-522 joins a growing list of labeling efforts that have taken the form of ballot measures and legislative votes in several U.S. states, including California's narrowly-defeated 2012 measure, Proposition 37. Like Prop 37, I-522 has also brought along multi-million dollar advertising campaigns and strong opinions about the future of GMOs and food labeling.
Yes on 522
Supporters of the initiative, like those for California's Proposition 37, claim that a yes vote on 522 would give consumers "more control" over their shopping decisions.
The group, launched in April, gathered more than 350,000 signatures on its petition to get the initiative on the ballot, and boasts several million dollars in campaign contributions.
Industry supporters include CC Natural Markets, Marlene's Market, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Nature's Path, Ben & Jerry's, Clif Bar, Amy's Kitchen, and Whole Foods, which earlier this year committed to labeling GMO products in its stores within five years.