Of course as an organic gardener I am supporting the labeling of foods containing GMOs. I am not supporting this bill because I want to sell more organic produce. I grow organic produce because I do not want to expose myself to pesticides or foods that will irritate my poor, delicate, damaged digestive system.
As a social psychologist I work with people who need to put everything they have into the chores of communicating, feeding themselves, getting along with family and, with support, working at a job. The common cold leaves my clients in bed unable to talk or care for themselves. The slightest digestive insult catapults them into a trance like state where they stare at the wall and snarl at anyone who interrupts them. Other clients may have raging or weeping melt-downs. Vulnerable people need to know what is in their food.
So today, Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Grocery Manufacturer Assn., and DuPont sent me a silly flyer about why I should vote no on an Initiative I was eager to support. It is an excellent example of using half-truths and generalization to support a position that does not benefit the health and wellbeing of the people of my state.
The first point on the flyer is that the “law that would impose complicated food labeling regulations in Washington that do not exist in any other state.” Yay!! Yes. We are the second to try to get labeling. We’re pioneers. However, the labeling does exist in other countries if GMO containing products are not banned outright. It exists in Canada, England, Germany, Russia and that bastion of product safety, China. Labeling of GMO’s exists in about 55 other countries.
The anti-GMO labeling forces attempted to answer several questions:
What would I-522 do? Oh dear, the chemical industries’ point is vague and misleading. Yes, the initiative would require foods containing GMOs to be labeled. They mention again that this label would be just for Washington. Companies are free to use the GMO identifying label in any state they wish. They can use the same labels they use in Canada or England. Yes, foods that are not directly genetically modified are exempt. The purpose of the law is to label those things that are genetically modified. Those products like milk and wine that have not been subject to genetic modification are exempt. If the genes of mushrooms have never been messed with in a lab the mushrooms are exempt.
How much would I-522 cost taxpayers? We don’t know. It depends on how compliant food manufacturers are. I participated in the process for adopting warning labels for alcohol products sold in Washington. You see the signs we petitioned for wherever liquor is sold. The process took several hours from several people about half of them were volunteers. I’m certain the liquor industry spend some substantial money fighting the process. Still the labels were implemented with very little cost to the state of WA. The liquor control board monitors the labeling again at little cost. The GMO producers will drive the cost on this process so their statements sound like extortion based on my experience. Vote no or we will bankrupt the state with procedural obstruction. I never give in to extortion.
Who’s behind I-522 I am. I am an organic grower living on Vashon Island in WA. People like me who are concerned about their own health and the health of those in their communities are behind this bill. As I mentioned before I am concerned also for the health of our vulnerable consumers. The anti-labeling people say that I-522 is funded by millions of dollars from out-of-state food manufacturers looking for a competitive edge. The Monsanto company, just one of the corporations fighting this bill controls 40% of our food supply. This is a case of David vs Goliath. I want to thank everybody in this country who is helping Washington State win this battle for the right to know what is in our food. Reality Check: Grocery Manufacturers Assn. DuPont, Monsanto, Dow, and Bayer are listed on the flyer I received as the top five contributors to the vote No effort. All of these are out of state Corporations and they complain that Vote Yes has out of state contributions.
Is there a food labeling system in place? Yes. I personally choose organic foods when available. But Certified Organic is a layer of protection that is not necessary in all products for all people. In the past our food supply was safe. People are still inclined to believe that there are no potentially harmful agents in our food. Labeling addresses that issue. Also, over the years I’ve found that some of my favorite products have been bought out by the big food processors and the recipe is changed without warning. If I’m accustomed to buying Kettle potato chips, I’d hate to see that company taken over by Lays and altered without telling me. I usually figure this out when I get sick. Getting sick is not a substitute for labeling. Also, I’d love to find products that are not organic but may be GMO free.
What’s the bottom line? The anti-labeling people state that I-522 would lead to inaccurate and unreliable information. Um…Oh My…does this mean that they will do their best to be inaccurate and unreliable? I doubt that I-522 is absolutely perfect-only God is perfect. But I-522 is as good as humans can make a piece of legislation. We do have the right to know what is in our food.