Deciphering Initiative 522

What is it? Initiative 522 is an initiative that would require genetically engineered raw agricultural commodities, seeds, seed stocks and processed foods to be labeled as genetically engineered on the package when they are sold. The initiative has certain exceptions including food from animals that were fed genetically engineered food, meals prepared in restaurants and alcoholic beverages.


Support for Initiative 522 (The Pros)

Proponents of I-522 say that it provides valuable information for consumers. Knowing where your food comes from, can help people fighting obesity and other dietary problems, and gives consumers much more control over what they eat and what they’re buying. This would require that common foods like corn, soy, chips, soft drinks, and candy be labeled so that people can make more informed decisions. Yes on I-522 has the support of Whole Foods Market, The Washington State Labor Council and more than 350 businesses, 25 seafood groups, 150 farms and 45 elected officials


Not supporting Initiative 522 (The Cons)

Opponents of Initiative 522 say that the law would add burden to farmers, food producers and grocers because it would add to the cost of food production. The prices then would be passed on to Washington state consumers in the form of higher food prices. Opponents also say that it would require special food labeling regulations that are not found anywhere else. Opponents of I-522 claim it is a pointless regulation because the USDA and the FDA have deemed genetically engineered ingredients safe. No on I-522 has the support of major chemical companies such as Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and Bayer Crop Science. It also has the support of major organizations such as the Washington Association of Wheat Growers and the Washington State Farm Bureau.

Money has been pouring in from both sides of the initiative. Over $20 million has been spent on this measure, making it the second most expensive ballot initiative in Washington State history. If passed into law, I-522 would take effect July 1, 2015.

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