Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What you need to know about GMO

​On January 2nd, proponents of a new initiative to label Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food products sold in Washington submitted 340,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office – virtually ensuring a spot on the ballot for the 2013 election.
The legislative initiative, titled I-522, would require food companies to label products that contain GMOs. It would also allow citizens to file suit against companies if state officials do not take action after 60 days of being notified of a violation. A similar initiative in California was defeated last year, 51.4 to 48.6 percent.
Supporters argue that consumers have a right to know if GMOs are being used food products. They point to the fact that the health effects of GMOs are not completely known, and that some DNA sequences can come from animals, bacteria, or other non-plant organisms. Some proponents are also concerned that without proper documentation GMO crops may accidently cross-pollenate with their non-GMO counterparts nearby.
Opponents, meanwhile, point to possibility of increased food prices under the new system. The cost of labeling every product that uses GMOs, coupled with the threat of potential lawsuits if companies make a mistake, could drive up prices on a variety of everyday items.
An initiative must have 241,153 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, which I-522 has cleared handily. The initiative will first go to the legislature, where legislators may choose to pass it as if it were a normal piece of legislation. If the legislature opts not to take action, then the initiative is sent to the voters as I-522. If the legislature amends the initiative, then both the original and the amended version are sent to voters as initiatives.
Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon can be seen discussing GMO labeling on Fox Business here.