Washington State Voters Turn Down GMO Food Labels

The Evergreen State would rather not know what's in their food

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By nearly ten points, voters in Washington State rejected a ballot initiative that would have required labels on foods containing genetically-engineered ingredients.

Initiative 522 failed at the polls on Tuesday, with 54.8 percent of voters in the Evergreen State voting no and 45.2 percent in favor, according to a tally by USA Today. Had it passed, Washington would have been the first state in the nation to require labeling of genetically-modified foods.

The campaign against the initiative drew $22 million in fundraising — mostly from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and agricultural sciences companies such as Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience, who outspent supporters 3 to 1, according to the Associated Press. Ads from food industry groups said that the initiative would have raised food prices.

A similar initiative failed in California last year.

[USA Today]

41 comments
liza
liza

In Europe everything (almost everything) is required to have a list of ingredients if it is destined for human consumption.  What is the problem with labelling food as having GMO content?  If GMO products are as harmless as we keep hearing, allow us the chance to choose - or is that the problem???

EndTheIllusion
EndTheIllusion

The sheep have spoken!

 "We do not want to know what is in our food!" 

Now go watch more TV and go shopping. 

krasy08
krasy08

I can't believe this got voted down.. it is shocking how mindless some people can be..

Ryan_Barone
Ryan_Barone

This is absolutely ridiculous. As a voter, I would seriously question why companies who produce genetically modified foods would spend so much money to prevent this from passing. I don't think it would actually cost more than a quarter of one cent per container of food for it to be labeled properly- it just gets printed on the container during the printing process. Why would food companies spend so many dollar bills to keep customers uninformed? I cannot believe a state with voters that pass legalized marijuana legislation would not pass this, a law which increases transparency and allows for greater consumer freedom. This absolutely stuns me. I would like to go on record stating that I question the validity of the results.

LeighCarter
LeighCarter

I don't know but if the reaction of the people across the country is any indication, companies better get a grip on their ingredient supply chain.  I don't think it'll fade away after all this. This gets people riled up. 

anti-government
anti-government

This was a strange election, with outside interests (e.g., big agriculture) paying almost all the costs of the massive "NO" campaign and other out of state money paying for much of the "YES": advertising. It was almost like this issue was more important to out of staters than to Washingtonians.

As one with Libertarian leanings, I am glad this additional burden on the economy (it costs money for companies to label products properly) has not come to pass. As someone who lives (and eats food in) Washington, I am sad that my fellow citizens don't care what kinds of GMO pollutions they put in their bodies. I eat mostly organic food so I will be poisoned slower than my fellow citizens.

I think the subhead about Washingtonians not caring what is in their food is generally correct because people do not understand the possible harm to themselves and the environment from using GMO agricultural methods.

PaulHeikkila
PaulHeikkila

The subhead, "Evergreen State would rather not know what's in their food", is based on what?  Were they asked that question?  My own feeling is I would like to know what herbicide and pesticide residues are in what I eat; how much mercury is in what I eat; how much of whatever other harmful substance might be in the food that I eat.  I could care less whether the food is GMO or not since that has zilch to do with any harm to me.

JasonMChicago
JasonMChicago

For the time being people need to vote with their dollars... and buy Organic and/or NonGMO Project Verified products.  Europe has had GMO labeling for nearly two decades.  It's sad when we have to fight for every single right in this country.

MichaelGarrity
MichaelGarrity

Sorry to hear that this measure got beaten down----I do not know why any regular person would vote to kill such a measure---other than the industry dropping big money and spreading tons of what had to be misinformation, obfuscation and outright lies about how this would be a bad thing to put the fact that GMOs are in our food. This is an effort that needs to be continued, eventually one of these measures will come to pass somewhere.

KevinHyde
KevinHyde

How can adding a few words to a label raise food prices?.... they convinced the sheep with another lie.... sad that so many refuse to do any type of research on their own but choose to rely on Big Agra propaganda!

MatthewM.Smith
MatthewM.Smith

There is no evidence of any nutritional or safety difference, so what do you want to label? The idea is stupid and based on fear and ignorance.

coregamer
coregamer

You can't escape this. it's in everything... EVERYTHING. Even your ocean spray uses GMO sugar beets. Your stacey's pita chips, your oreos. Any processed food you buy in the store is made from garbage. You are a test rat. Years from now they'll look at cancer rates and THEN they'll find out if the GMOs made any difference. They have no fucking clue right now. You have articles from studies in scientific american saying that GMO corn was causing tumors in rats. 

So irresponsible for a nation transitioning to a national healthcare system to not even allow it's citizens to make informed choices about what they are putting into their body. Countries around the world have these requirements in place and these companies make special formulas of their products so they don't eat garbage. we are so exploited it is unreal. All of this while the people elected to make our laws work against us for these large corporations who continue to do well despite stagnant wages.

Motherfuckers.

KathleenSteoger
KathleenSteoger

We vote by mail so there is still hope!!!  Voting matters!! When Washington voters were polled on GMO labeling two-thirds of voters supported labeling. How is it possible that people would vote no on knowing what they are eating???? In early returns released Tuesday night, it appeared voters are saying no to GMO labeling. The voice of corporations wins again over the voice of the people. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and five major corporations raised $22 million (mostly out of state) to defeat OUR Initiative 522. Food-labeling supporters raised $7.8 million. Depressing!!

First election returns showed Washington's voters were rejecting the measure, 54.84 percent to 45.16 percent.

I don't know if it is possible once all the ballets are counted to make up the difference we can only hope. Pro-Initiative 522 campaign manager Delana Jones was not ready to concede, pointing out that as many as 300,000 projected ballots remained to be counted in King County, where the measure was winning handily. “It’s too close to call,” she said.

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

@anti-government "I am glad this additional burden on the economy (it costs money for companies to label products properly"

Because changing a font on a preexisting label cost so much money?!? Heck they cant even complain about having to pay some one to redesign the label since so much of that work is being done by unpaid interns.

DaveDarby1
DaveDarby1

@PaulHeikkila It will tighten the grip of global corporations on our food supply, which will harm all of us. Whether you understand that is a different question. 

DaveDarby1
DaveDarby1

@MatthewM.Smith It will tighten the grip of global corporations on our food supply, which I don't want to support, for reasons of food security and democracy. Luckily I live in the UK, so GM food is labelled. If it were labelled over there, you could choose to support corporate control over us if you wanted to, by buying GM, and people could choose not to buy GM, and thereby not supporting coporate control of our food. I think that's fair.

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

@MatthewM.Smith Ok is there is nothing to worry about why is big agra so worried about the labeling?

I have no issues with GMO food but I am concerned with these companies insistence in lying to the public. 

EndTheIllusion
EndTheIllusion

@MatthewM.Smith So says Monsanto and you believe them? If there is no difference, then why are Monsanto and the other food processors so afraid of labeling? Why did Monsanto have [our] Congress pass the Monsanto protection Act? 

Wake up!

Andrew.H.
Andrew.H.

@MatthewM.Smith So you are CLEARLY in the pocket of Big Agra.  As for why we want the label, umm, simple: we have a RIGHT to know what we are putting in our bodies.  And frankly, if there is no nutritional or safety difference (which is not at all decided),  then why are they afraid to label it? 

JasonMChicago
JasonMChicago

@coregamer Well said.  People don't realize that this STORY has happened over and over again. Lead paint, tobacco, artificial sweetners, etc.  It will happen in the future as well for other things (ie mammograms, vaccines, etc.).  The right to know is FUNDAMENTAL and it is absurd that anyone (I don't care how ignorant they are) anyone would vote for themselves to be "in the dark" and eating "unknown" ingredients.  It is beyond mindblowing!

MatthewM.Smith
MatthewM.Smith

@DaveDarby1 So, your argument is merely one of anti-corporate and geopolitical interests and devoid of any actual concern about the safety of the products themselves. Ethnocentric positions like yours are oblivious to the challenges of developing a global food supply for a planet that has exceeded its natural carrying capacity. Yet, I suppose you still maintain that there is something different about GM food that warrants labeling and there is not, making the whole idea ignorant and misguided.

MatthewM.Smith
MatthewM.Smith

@EndTheIllusion @MatthewM.Smith I don't need to believe anyone. I know first-hand that there is no difference and nothing worth labeling or warning about..

MichaelGarrity
MichaelGarrity

@Andrew.H. @MatthewM.Smith How do we know that GMOs cause no harm? Can we believe the what the companies say about this??? At one time--the companies that produced tobacco products--in spite of massive amounts of evidence to the contrary---always said that tobacco use caused no harm to us--but it clearly does.  There are some studies in Europe and elsewhere that are starting to show that some of the GMO products do cause harm.  It almost follows that introducing all sorts of genetic material into our bodies that would not have gotten into us any other way than being in our food might turn out to be harmful to our health and well-being. To be doing this sort of thing is a grand, "mad scientist" lab experiment and we are the lab rats, pigs and monkeys!!!!  Just like we have a right to know how much sugar, salt and carbs are in our food--we have a RIGHT to know if GMOs are in our food as well!!!!!!!  That is all that is asked  by measures such as this---its obvious that the food industry complex does have fears that people will reject food that contains GMOs, otherwise they would not be so dead set against measures of this sort.

Andrew.H.
Andrew.H.

@MatthewM.Smith @coregamer How the heck is knowing the source of food making an Uninformed choice.  You are clearly a shill, but this argument doesn't even make sense.  Please try harder.  Your handlers in Big Agra won't like your performance here.

MatthewM.Smith
MatthewM.Smith

You obviously don't get it. Mutations are not involved with this technology. What are they going to put on the label? You can't measure a amount like salt or sugar or even list an extra ingredient, since there is none. There is no content difference from any other product. All that we eat and animals and plants we use have been subjected to crossbreeding, selection and domestication for tens of thousands of years. All the attributes people value have been obtained by human selection and this is no different, but more directed and focused.

EndTheIllusion
EndTheIllusion

@MatthewM.Smith Since you are so sure, why are you against labeling? We have labeling for salt and sugar content in food, we should certainly have it for any genetically mutated food as well. 

MatthewM.Smith
MatthewM.Smith

@Andrew.H.  You know nothing about me, though you are clearly an antagonistic, ignorant and fearful idiot with no scientific or business acumen. Why would the profit-seeking agricultural science industry spend all the money to fight worthless labeling, if the costs would be insignificant? They know the science and the economics and pursue the responsible mission to feed billions of people. Do you? The broad professional scientific consensus is that products improved by genetic engineering are safe and there is nothing "in" or materially different, much less dangerous about them. They will continue to contribute to the sustainability of the worldwide food supply.

MatthewM.Smith
MatthewM.Smith

@Andrew.H. @MatthewM.Smith @MichaelGarrity You are an idiot and know nothing about me. You are just a fearful, uneducated person with no scientific or business acumen. Why would the agricultural science industry spend all the money to fight the labeling of products if the unwarranted costs would be insignificant? They know the science, the economics and the dire need to feed billions of people. There is no rational basis to believe there is anything "in" or materially different, much less dangerous, about these products.

Nationcrying
Nationcrying

@MichaelGarrity and the dentist and government will still insist that flouride (rat poisoning used in Germany during the Hitler regime to control the masses), is ok to put into our bodies.  THAT is why we need GMO labeling.  The companies will lie and lie and with the elitist and bankers who could care less whether we live or die, I DO FIND A NEED FOR GMO LABELING

Andrew.H.
Andrew.H.

@MatthewM.Smith @MichaelGarrity @Andrew.H. See, you got a different script. Very good! You are clearly still a shill for the industry. I am sure, if you are indeed a Molecular Biologist, as you claim, you are paid well by the industry to shill for them. Again, your argument does not address the fundamental issue. If you are saying that GMO products are indeed safe (again, there is absolutely no consensus on this, as much as you would like that to be the case), why then can't we know this? Why does the industry insist on keeping its customer base ignorant of the source of their products? Adding to the label will cost next to nothing for the manufacturers. They already print a label.This would simply be a change in what is printed. The costs of tiny change in the labels they already print are almost non-existent compared to the money the industry paid to fight this measure. You know this is true; yet, you again try to feed the propaganda machine by implying that the costs of printing the label would somehow hurt the consumer. This is bunk. They clearly fear the labeling because, we, as the consumer, may choose to reject their products, as we have a right to do. So, keep on shilling. Keep on earning that paycheck, and we will keep fighting to ensure everyone is INFORMED on the sources of their food, so they can make INFORMED choices.

MatthewM.Smith
MatthewM.Smith

@MichaelGarrity @Andrew.H. @MatthewM.SmithThat is BS. I am a molecular biologist. It is impossible to introduce functional genetic material by eating it. If that were true, then gene therapy could be applied to food. Your digestion breaks down all nutrients and recycles the building blocks for the body's own use.

Forty years ago, people showed similar ignorant hysteria when the first genes were cloned. Today, many products are produced by recombinant DNA technology and they have revolutionized medical therapy for many diseases. The first recombinant product, human insulin, has completely supplanted the use of porcine insulin. It is made in bacteria or yeast. Similar technology is improving yields and quality of food that is needed to feed the overabundant people on Earth.

The application of agricultural genetic engineering is a more focused and informed method than the haphazard crossbreeding humans have engaged in for tens of thousands of years. There is nothing materially different (or harmful) about the products, so a label would be a meaningless expense to consumers. *Everything* we eat and use, with the exception of un-farmed seafood, has been already been bred and domesticated for human consumption.

coregamer
coregamer

@MichaelGarrity @MatthewM.Smith @Andrew.H. @coregamer 

He is an associate professor at a university in canada where many graduates go on to work as quality control technicians or quality assurance for big food companies from doing a quick look on linkedin. He's legit, but biased. He wants their graduates to get jobs in the industry and this looks good for him here.

All we want is our food to be labeled properly like it is in every other country. They should not be able to put the label ALL NATURAL on their products and sell it at a premium price if they are making it in a lab. It is deceitful. 

You cannot say with 100% certainty what the effects are seeing as how there are studies coming out showing that certain GMO foods are leading to tumors.

MichaelGarrity
MichaelGarrity

@MatthewM.Smith @Andrew.H. @coregamer Seems pretty clear that Mr. Smith is either a shill for this industry or he is just a regular guy who loves to drink the industry's "Kool Aid" on this subject and for whatever reason, wants to defend the status quo as set by "corporate lords and masters of the universe" and being "a good boy" in doing so. If he doesn't work for them---I guess he must be applying for a job in a PR slot by companies like ConAgra, Monsanto or Cargill.