Difference between revisions of "Washington Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Measure, Initiative 522 (2013)"

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Line 86: Line 86:
{|class="wikitable" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" width="205"
{|class="wikitable" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" width="205"
|{{#ev:youtube|60J1FeISLG8|300}}<br><span style="font-size:80%">Yes on 522 — Washington State GMO Labeling </span>
|{{#ev:youtube|60J1FeISLG8|300}}<br><span style="font-size:80%">Yes on 522 — Washington State GMO Labeling</span>
Line 275: Line 275:
*William D. Hyslop, Former US Attorney of Eastern District of Washington
*William D. Hyslop, Former US Attorney of Eastern District of Washington
<div style="float:right">
{|class="wikitable" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" width="205"
|{{#ev:youtube|TbclNm4tkG8|300}}<br><span style="font-size:80%">"Experts Urge NO on 522"</span>
====Former officials====
====Former officials====

Revision as of 11:46, 30 September 2013

Washington Initiative 522
Flag of Washington.png
Click here for the latest news on U.S. ballot measures
Quick stats
Type:Initiative to the Legislature
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Food and agriculture
Status:On the ballot
Washington Initiative 522, also known as the "Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Measure," is on the November 5, 2013 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the Legislature.[1]

The initiative effort would require GMO labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.

A similar measure, California's Proposition 37, was narrowly defeated on November 6, 2012. Proposition 37 enjoyed a 61% lead in the polls in early September of 2012; roughly $45.6 million was spent to defeat it.

Text of measure

Ballot text

The following is the ballot text on file with the Washington Secretary of State's office and provided by the initiative's supporters:[2]

Initiative Measure No. 522 concerns labeling of genetically-engineered foods.

This measure would require most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stocks, if produced using genetic engineering as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale.

Should this measure be enacted into law?
Yes [ ]
No [ ][3]


The following is the ballot measure summary of the proposal:

"This measure would require foods produced entirely or partly with genetic engineering, as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale in Washington, beginning in July 2015. The labeling requirement would apply generally to raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stock, with some exceptions, but would not require that specific genetically-engineered ingredients be identified. The measure would authorize state enforcement and civil penalties, and allow private enforcement actions."[2]


Scientific consensus has consistently ruled that genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption. Some countries, however, have banned their sales citing a lack of research done by independent institutions, rather than the companies themselves. GMO labeling is mandated in 64 countries, including the European Union nations, Australia, China, Japan, Brazil and India. Proponents of GMO labeling in the United States are focusing their campaigns not on the safety of GMOs, but on transparency in the food system.[4]


The campaign in support of the measure is run by Yes on 522.

Yes on I 522, GMO Labeling



Yes on 522 — Washington State GMO Labeling

Former officials


  • The Alliance for Democracy
  • Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association
  • Biosafety Alliance
  • Buy Local Clark County
  • Center for Food Safety
  • Chinook Book Seattle
  • Community to Community
  • Conservation Northwest
  • Credo Action
  • Environmental Working Group
  • Faith Action Network
  • Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
  • Food and Water Watch
  • Food Democracy Now!
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Fuse
  • GMO-Free San Juan County
  • Good Food World
  • Grays Harbor County Democrats
  • Green America
  • GrowFood.org
  • Healthcare Professionals for a Safe & Healthy Sustainable Food Supply
  • IBEW 76
  • ILWU 52
  • Institute for Responsible Technology
  • Jefferson County Democrats
  • Jefferson County Farmers Market Association
  • Just Label It
  • King County Democrats
  • Kitsap County Democrats
  • Lewis County Democrats
  • Lopez Locavores
  • Mangrove Action Project
  • National Young Farmers Association
  • Natural Products Association Northwest
  • Non-GMO Project
  • Nutritional Therapy Association
  • Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition
  • PCC Farmland Trust
  • Pesticide Action Network
  • Pierce County Democrats
  • Occupy Bellingham
  • Organic Consumers Association
  • Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association
  • Quimper Grange 720
  • Seattle Tilth
  • Sierra Club, Snohomish Chapter
  • Slow Food Land and Sea
  • Snohomish County Democrats
  • Spokane County Democrats
  • Sustainable Capitol Hill
  • Sustainable Connections
  • Tilth Producers of Washington
  • United Farm Workers
  • United National Products Association
  • University of Washington Young Democrats
  • Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians
  • Washington Conservation Voters
  • Washington East Asian Medicine Association
  • Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Washington State Farmers Market Association
  • Washington State Nurses Association
  • Washington State Senior Citizens Lobby
  • Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network
  • Washington Toxics Coalition
  • Washington Young Farmers Coalition
  • WashPIRG
  • Western Washington Physicians for a National Health Program
  • Whatcom County Democrats
  • Whatcom County Women’s Democratic Club
  • Whatcom County Young Democrats
See also: A full list of supporters


  • A key argument being put forth for mandatory labeling is that such labeling would allow consumers more control over their purchasing decisions. According to initiative sponsor Chris McManus, "Yes, you can steer clear of certain items, but unless you know that they're there, how do you know to steer clear of them? Putting a label on the front of that just informs the consumer a little bit more about what they're buying."[6]
  • Supporters say that mandatory labeling would not impact companies' profits because food labels are already routinely updated. They also point to the fact that labels are already used for sugar, fat and other ingredients so there would be no extra cost to adding information to genetically engineered food labels.[7]

Campaign contributions

This data was obtained from the Public Disclosure Commission and is current as of September 26, 2013. The following are committees registered in support of Initiative 522:

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
EWG Yes on I-522 Comm $12,418 $12,413
Farmers & Friends of Initiative 522 $23,000 $1,500
Genetically Modified Organisms Awareness Group $0 $0
GMO Right to Know $500 $0
Label It WA $513,006 $511,817
Organic Consumers Fund Comm to Label GMOs in WA ST $589,928 $514,388
Yes on I-522 Comm $4,352,844 $857,688
Total $5,490,507 $1,897,806

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps $1,500,000
Organic Consumer Fund $380,000
Mercola.Com Health Resources LLC $200,000
Organic Consumer Fund to Label GMOs in WA State $200,000
Presence Marketing Inc. $200,000


The campaign opposing the measure is run by the No on 22 Coalition.

No on I 522, GMO Labeling



"Experts Urge NO on 522"

Former officials

  • Former Governor and US Senator Daniel J. Evans (R)
  • Former US Senator Slade Gorton (R)
  • Former US Representative George Nethercutt (R)
  • Former US Representative Sid Morrison (R)
  • Former Secretary of State Sam S. Reed (R)
  • Former State Representative Clyde Ballard (R-12)
  • Former State Representative John Serben (R-6)
  • Former State Senator Brian Murray (R-6)
  • Former State Senator Bob Morton, (R-7)
  • Former State Senator Jeanine Long, (R-44)
  • Mike DeVleming, Former Mayor and City Council Member of Spokane (R)


  • Association of Washington Business
  • Associated Industries
  • Northwest Food Processors Association
  • Northwest Grocery Association
  • Far West Agribusiness Association
  • Greater Pasco Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Washington Association of Neighborhood Stores
  • Washington Restaurant Association
  • Washington Retail Association
  • AgVentures NW, LLC
  • Backachers Emu Ranch
  • Buchholz Farms LLC
  • Darren Young Insurance Agency Inc.
  • Ekone Oyster Co.
  • Eltopia Irrigation
  • Henningsen Cold Storage Co.
  • LC Farms, Inc.
  • Maizena & Sunburst LLC
  • McGregor Company
  • Northern Oyster Co.
  • Skagit Farmers Supply
  • Sno-Valley Farms Inc.
  • Webley Farms and Cattle
  • American Feed Industry Association
  • CR Cherries, Inc.
  • Greater Spokane Incorporated
  • Mainstream Republicans of Washington
  • Northwest Automatic Vending Association
  • Schorzman Farms Joint Venture
  • SunRay Farms
See also: A full list of opponents


  • On February 18, 2013, the Seattle Times published an editorial written by Thanh Tan saying: "I eat organic or all-natural food as much as possible. I read labels. I buy local. I also choose to believe mainstream, peer-reviewed science — which so far shows genetically engineered (GE or GMO) food is not harmful to our health. Trust me, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. Like so many others, I viewed GMO crops as the unnatural, unregulated creation of a few biotech giants like Monsanto. The narrative was simple: Big Food is the bad guy. Of course, the truth is more nuanced. Hearing and reading a January 2013 speech from former anti-GMO crusader and British environmental activist Mark Lynas has made me question my own personal bias against genetically modified food."[8]
  • In an editorial published on February 20, 2013, Tracy Warner, of The Wenatchee World, wrote: "Initiative 522, which is certainly headed to our November ballot, would require all foods containing GMO ingredients wear a special label saying so. This is superficially benign, to be sold as a harmless and good right-to-know measure, but it is far more complex and devious. Essentially the food industry will be ordered to slap warning labels on most processed products sold in Washington, at great expense, so the initiative backers may sell more foods labeled “natural” or something else, foods no more natural and no healthier than any other; to stigmatize the products of science that allows more food to be produced on less land, requiring fewer expenditures and resources and saving wear on the environment, that all credible scientific studies show is perfectly safe."[9]
  • According to Heather Hansen, executive director of Washington Friends of Farms and Forests, "We think this is really intended to be a scare tactic, to ultimately scare people away from technology. And it's not providing any meaningful information."[6]

Campaign contributions

This data was obtained from the Public Disclosure Commission and is current as of September 26, 2013. The following are committees registered in opposition to Initiative 522:

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
NO on 522 $11,606,111 $1,662,299
Total $11,606,111 $1,662,299

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
Monsanto $4,834,411
DuPont Pioneer $3,420,159
Grocery Manufactures Association $2,222,500
Bayer CropScience $591,654
BASF Plant Science $500,000

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Washington ballot measures, 2013


  • The Seattle Times called on voters to "be skeptical" of I-522 in an editorial published on February 17, 2013. In the editorial, the board wrote, "People already have the option of buying GMO-free foods from producers who farm organically or who choose to self-label. Organic farms in Washington are responding to the market’s demands. Well-meaning consumers say they want more freedom of choice. With I-522, they may end up with less. Just look at European Union countries where producers are using higher-priced ingredients to avoid even the potential stigma of a mandatory GMO label. Consider their experience a cautionary note for Washington voters."[10]
  • The Longview Daily News said, "To our ears, and to the ears of many others, I-522 seems like more of an effort to scare consumers away from foods containing GMOs than to direct them toward healthier alternatives. After almost two decades, proof has yet to surface that food containing GMOs presents any measurable health risk at all. We think it’s illustrative that major proponents of I-522 include the Whole Foods chain of organic grocery stores and producers of organic meats and produce. Larger grocery chains and organizations representing state farmers and food wholesalers have either taken no position or are opposed."[11]


See also: Polls, 2013 ballot measures
  • A survey by Elway Poll conducted September 3-5, 2013, found that 43% would "definitely" vote for the amendment, 23% would "probably" vote for it, 21% would vote against it and 13% were undecided. A total of 406 likely voters were polled with margin of error at +/-5%.[12]
Washington Initiative 522 - Support v. Opposition
Poll Support OppositionUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Elway Poll
September 3-5, 2013
Elway Poll
October 15-17, 2013
KING 5 News Poll
October 22, 2013
AVERAGES 52.33% 33.67% 13.33% +/-4.77 455
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

See also Initiatives to the Legislature in Washington

A total of 246,372 signatures are needed to place a measure before Washington Legislature. If the legislature does not enact the measure, it would then be sent to the ballot. The deadline for the submission of those signatures to the Washington Secretary of State was January 4, 2013.

I-522 signature checker at the Washington Secretary of State's office

In early January 2013, supporters of I-522 stated that they had reached their goal of garnering approximately 320,000 signatures in hopes of presenting it to the Washington Legislature. The Washington Secretary of State's office reported that supporters of Initiative 522 had submitted about 19,000 petitions with about 350,000 signatures on January 3, 2013.[13]

On February 1, 2013, the Washington Secretary of State's office reported that enough signatures were obtained to place the measure before legislature. Out of the random sample of 10,762 signatures for I-522, 9,503 were valid and 1,241 were invalid, while there were 18 pairs of duplicate signatures.[14][15]

The 2013 state legislative session ended on April 28, 2013, with no resolution from the legislature. The measure will now go before voters in the November 5, 2013 general election.

Similar measures

In 2012, California voters pulled their levers on Proposition 37, a measure that would have led to the requirement of labels on many raw or processed foods offered for sale to consumers if the foods were made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. The measure was defeated, 51.4% to 48.6%.

See also

Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading