This November, Washington State voters will decide whether to label genetically engineered foods. Nationwide, the past couple of months have shown a ramp-up of support for labeling, with labeling bills passing legislatures in Connecticut, and Maine. Washington, however, is the only state sending a genetically engineered foods labeling bill to a vote of the people this fall.
Yes on 522, the campaign to label genetically engineered food, believes that shoppers have the right to know what is in the groceries they and their families are eating. Delana Jones, the campaign manager for Yes on 522, said, “This initiative is about providing shoppers with important information so they can control the grocery shopping decisions that affect their families.”
Food manufacturers already label ingredients, nutrition facts, the country of origin, whether fish was wild or farm-raised, whether vanilla extract is pure or artificial, and now even whether meat was tenderized mechanically. Initiative 522 is all about giving Washington shoppers the information they need to make informed choices about the groceries they buy.
Many of the campaign’s partners are also advocating for full label transparency here in the state and across the nation. Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, has said, “The prevalence of GMOs paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products.” Whole Foods Market made history this year when they announced that they would be the first national grocery chain to label genetically engineered foods.
Washington Takes the Lead
Washington has a strong history of leading on progressive issues, including being the first state to unanimously pass the nation’s first law requiring labels on salmon to let shoppers know if the fish was farm-raised or wild. The state of Alaska already labels genetically engineered salmon and Washington should do the same. In recent years, Washington State has used ballot measures as a force for good public policy—from Death With Dignity, to Marijuana Decriminalization, to Marriage Equality.
Last year, California’s Proposition 37 (GMO labeling) was defeated at the polls after the opposition outspent the “Yes” campaign six-to-one. In the wake of California’s Proposition 37 defeat, people came together early here in Washington, to get organized, work with volunteers, and to raise the funds necessary to compete with the opposition on the air and in other paid communications.
As part of Yes on 522’s early outreach efforts and organization, we have garnered the support of several high-profile organizations, such as Ben & Jerry’s, the Washington State Nurses Association, Skagit Valley Co-op, PCC Natural Markets, Washington Conservation Voters, Whole Foods, and Washington Toxics Coalition as well as many independent farmers and ranchers. These organizations and companies understand the importance of providing every Washingtonian with information about the groceries they are buying.
Come November, the voters of Washington State will decide if they want to label genetically engineered foods. To ensure I-522 passes, we need your help. Sign up to volunteer for the campaign, here. And we need resources to compete with TV and other advertising. You can help us compete against the opposition, buy donating here. You can help spread the word about why labels matter by following the Twitter feed, @yeson522, or on Facebook, facebook.com/yeson522. Thank you for your support of Washingtonians’ right to know what’s in the groceries we are buying and eating! www.yeson522.com.