Measure to Label Genetically Modified Foods Heading to Ballot in Washington

Washington would be first US state to require GMO products to be labeled
Wikimedia Commons/jlantzy


Come November, there will be a measure on ballots in Washington State that will require every product sold — whether packaged items of fruits and vegetables — that is in some way genetically modified to include a label letting the consumer know.

A petition with 350,000 signatures (100,000 more than needed) was turned into the state government last week, guaranteeing that the measure will be on the ballot. If it passes, Washington will be the first state with a full-disclosure law when it comes to genetically modified (GMO) food.

Sixty-two countries currently ban, restrict, or require labeling of GMO products, Trudy Bialic, a representative for PCC Natural Markets, a Seattle-based food cooperative pushing for the initiative's passage, told The Huffington Post. There’s a nationwide effort underway to make the labeling requirement a national law, with 1.3 million signatures so far gathered to be sent to the FDA, who has yet to respond.

The battle to label GMO foods is far more uphill than it may appear, though: food giants like Monsanto, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola have spent millions of dollars to shoot down ballot initiatives in the past (including one that failed in California last year), because a ban will ultimately cost the companies money even though it would benefit the public.

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 "There's no way we'll be able to outspend them," Bialic said. "This is a long battle. Sooner or later we're going to win, and we're hoping it's going to be in Washington."