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Initiative Seeks GMO Food Labels in Washington State

How would you vote on labeling genetically engineered food?

You might have seen petitions about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, circulating at your local grocery store in recent months. Now, some 350,000 signatures have been submitted to Washington state seeking food labeling for genetically engineered foods.

The sponsor of Initiative 522, Chris McManus, on Thursday submitted well more than the required 241,153 signatures of registered state voters.

The measure would require any food sold in Washington state and made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled.

This comes two months after California voters rejected a similar measure that pitted food safety advocates against agricultural and biotechnology giants in a roughly $55 million advertising battle.

According to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office, here’s what’s next:

It will go first to lawmakers, who begin their 105-day regular session on Jan. 14. Legislators have three options for each initiative: pass it into law as is, let it go to the November ballot for a public vote, or send it and a legislative alternative to the ballot and let voters decide which, if either, they want to support. The typical initiative to the Legislature takes the second path, going on to the General Election ballot. One or both houses may hold public hearings.

You can read the full initiative text here or click on the PDF attached to this story.

What do you think of the measure? Should Washington state label genetically modified foods? Tell us why in the comments.

Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 09:55 PM
The rest of your comment illustrates your own ignorance of the history of these substances, and their real danger: Agent Orange was manufactured by Dow Chemical and Monsanto, but it was discovered by a PhD candidate, and developed by biological warfare scientists working for the government. Nobody now doubts that it was a terrible thing, but I don't understand its link to GMOs. DDT was created by an Austrian chemist in 1874, and its insecticidal use wasn't discovered until 1939 by a Swiss scientist. Like it or not, it has saved immense amounts of human suffering and death, even if you only count its use against malaria. It is still used for this purpose in some places, but not in the US. HFCS was invented by a Japanese government scientist in 1967. Bromine is an element, and it was discovered in the 19th century. Why did you add it to this list? Aspartame was invented by a scientist working for G.D. Searle & Company, and has proven to be one of the safest food additives ever created. If you believe otherwise, you are discarding decades of scientific research in favor of your own beliefs, which is exactly what I was saying Americans are prone to do. Chemical fertilizers have been in use since the 1800s (invented by Swiss and German scientists), and have made today's huge human population possible.
Susan Milke January 07, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Since I have never ever answered a poll with any of those questions, maybe the polls they conduct are skewed? Have you every answered a poll? Who bases other people's knowledge on polls? The man who discovered Agent Orange never intended it to be used the way the military used it. It was to make soybeans grow faster. Sometimes technology gets in the wrong hands is my point. That there are individuals in this world that will do anything to make a buck and damn the consequences. Why don't you look at the cancer increases in our country. In my neighborhood alone, out of 40 homes, seven women that I know of have some form of cancer, two have died. Aspartame, really, it caused cancer in lab rats in the 70s. That was buried. Also Donald Rumsfeld ran the company then. Interesting. Bromine is an element and they put it in citrus drinks. Should it go in our body? Sounds like you trust everything corporation and governments tell us. Because they have never done anything wrong, right?!
Edward A. January 07, 2013 at 10:41 PM
It sounds like you don't understand polling either. "Sounds like you trust everything corporation and governments tell us." No, I trust science, and the scientific process, more than I trust my own uninformed beliefs, which is the entire point of my response to this article.
Susan Milke January 07, 2013 at 11:05 PM
And I believe that nature is smarter than people or scientists and I trust with my own "informed" beliefs. And going back to the original point. Label them and I can decide whether I want to put it in my body or not. Which is all the initiative is asking them to do.
Edward A. January 08, 2013 at 02:17 AM
I actually have no problem with requiring labeling of GM ingredients. What I have a problem with is the pseudoscience, misinformation, paranoia and ignorance that are used to justify it. The sponsor of this bill, who runs and advertising agency, when told (by a scientist) that he didn't understand the issue, said: "Well, you know, I’m not a scientist. I work in media. Those kinds of questions I’ll have to defer to later in the campaign." In other words, he has little idea what he is talking about. He is on a "religious" crusade, and, like most crusaders, is intent on ignoring evidence that contradicts his cherished belief that GMO are inherently bad.

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