Big money battle over GMO labeling initiative

by: Essex Porter Updated:


SEATTLE - A multi-million dollar advertising battle just launched that could determine how much you know about what goes into your food.

It's about Initiative 522 on the November ballot. The initiative requires labels on food that has been genetically engineered.

"The question here is if we're going to be able to figure out what's in our food, if we have a right to know if genetically engineered ingredients are being used in our food," said Aaron Ostrom of the Yes-on 522 campaign.

Initiative supporters don't necessarily claim that such ingredients are unsafe. In fact, unless you shop very carefully, it's likely you consume some form of genetically modified food every day.

But there was trouble recently for Washington exports when some genetically modified wheat was found in Oregon, because Governments in Asia and Europe refuse to buy such crops.

Still, opponents say the initiative places a huge burden on our state's farmers.

"For farmers who would want to farm some GE crop, and some non GE crops they would have to essentially run two entirely farming organizations," said Dana Bieber of the No-on-522 campaign.
And opponents believe the initiative would confuse consumers. "Take the example of a steak," Bieber said. "A steak will come from a cow that has been fed GE grains so there is GE in the steak. It's exempt from Initiative 522 that's where we as consumers get misled."

But consumers, like grocery shopper, Olga Rohlfsen, are also anxious for information. "I feel like I'm responsible to give my kids some good food I would love to know when I buy food what's in it," Rohlfsen said.

Initiative sponsors have gone to court because they accuse opponents of trying to hide their big money donors like Monsanto and Dow Chemical. Opponents deny the accusation and say their donations are fully reported. 


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