Initiative 522 would require companies to label genetically engineered foods

CLARKSTON, WA - As the general election nears, many political ads are popping up.

In Washington State, proponents and opponents of Initiative 522 are urging you to vote.

KLEW News learns more about the potential law that could change some food labels.

An initiative that's getting quite a bit of traction in Washington's general election is all about food labeling.

If passed Initiative 522 would require companies to label genetically engineered or genetically modified foods. There's a stark line between those for and against the initiative. Communications Director Elizabeth Larter of Yes for I-522 said it's all about putting power in the hands of the consumer.

"This is really just a transparency issue," said Larter. "We really do believe that every Washingtonian should grocery shop or have a right to know that their food has been genetically engineered."

But Coalition Spokesperson Dana Bieber of No on I-522 said the cost of that information is too high for the agricultural community.

"Initiative 522 is opposed by literally tens of thousands of farmers across the state," said Bieber. "In fact every major agricultural organization is urging a 'no' vote."

While genetically engineered plants, fish or mammals all serve different purposes, genetically engineered plants can reduce the use of pesticides. By combining cells of different organisms at the molecular level, scientists can make a plant engineered to fight off insects or environments that can hurt the crops.

"There have been over 600 independent studies that have been done on GE crops and they all come to the same conclusion," said Bieber. "They say that not only are GE foods safe, but they're identical to non-GE foods."

Larter said the Yes on I-522 Coalition isn't focused on the fact that crops are genetically engineered but more toward transparency for everyone in Washington State.

"The 'no' side is being funded by six out of state corporations and they're dumping record breaking amounts of money into the state," said Larter.

The measure is up for vote in the general election this November.

For links to both coalitions, for and against the initiative, head to our Facebook page where we've posted their websites.