Commentary: GMO labeling issue heats back up
On Oct. 9, Forbes published an opinion from Henry Miller that claimed labeling foods that are “genetically engineered” is misleading. (Read the Forbes article here.) Miller also points out that the bill doesn’t even help consumers completely avoid GM foods. He writes, “The imposition of GE labeling requirements via referendum issues is populism run amok, and in the case of I-522, there is the confounding element of arbitrary special-interest exemptions. Even for shoppers wishing to avoid GE foods, I-522 doesn’t deliver what it promises. Many GE-containing foods are explicitly exempted from the initiative, courtesy of special interests.”
In the meantime, the battle is being waged online and in the media. Several news reports are emerging that are casting the I-522 measure in a negative light. A new report by the Washington State Academy of Sciences said I-522’s requirement to label GM foods would come with costs to consumers. Although the report did not specific an amount, other studies have pegged the costs from $360 a year for a family of four to $450 a year. The two sides are also taking their message to television with ads to convince voters for their side.
Once again, all eyes in the ag industry will be watching the outcome of this ballot issue. Regardless if it passes or not, anti-GM activists will continue trying to get similar bills passed in other states. If it passes in Washington, they will see it as a major victory because they only need one state to agree to force food companies to start labeling GM foods. If companies are forced to label GM foods, the manufacturers will pass that cost along to the consumers. So it’s questionable if the bill would be a win for consumers in the long run.
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