Wash. GMO label debate heats up locally

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Wash. GMO label debate heats up locally

KGMI News Reporting
By Karen Taylor

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The debate over labeling genetically-modified foods under Initiative-522 is heating up.

Many state and local businesses are announcing their support for the initiative while many state farming and agricultural groups are speaking out against it.

I-522 would require companies selling food products in Washington to provide labels that show whether their ingredients or foods contain GMO’s.

Elisabeth Larter with the ‘Yes on 522’ campaign says labeling GMO’s is the next logical step for the state.

Play Elisabeth Larter on GMO labeling

She says lots of big companies support it, including Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Whole Foods and Theo Chocolate.

In Whatcom County local businesses including Terra Organica, Community Food Co-op and Bellewood Acres support it.

Farming and agricultural groups against I-522 and say the labels would be misleading and increase costs for farmers and shoppers.

Dana Beiber with the ‘No on 522’ campaign says the initiative is written in a way that gives special exemptions from labeling to about two-thirds of foods sold in Washington state.

She says many foods that do contain genetically-modified ingredients might not have to be labeled, while others that don’t have any GMO’s would be labeled anyway.

Play Dana Beiber on labeling

She says the “100 percent organic” and “non-GMO” labels are already two reliable ways for shoppers to use if they want to avoid genetically-engineered ingredients.

Groups against the initiative say requiring GMO labels will drive up the packaging costs for farmers and producers, and ultimately raise food prices.

Initiative 522 will be on the November ballot.