Posted November 6, 2013
 
Early results of Washington state’s food labeling initiative, which would have required labels for foods and seeds made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, show defeat, according to a Politico article available here.
 
The current numbers on Ballot Initiative 522 show those opposed leading by about 536,000 (54.8 percent) to 442,000 (45.2 percent).  These numbers represent a quarter of the state’s 3.9 million registered voters, so there are more votes to be counted.  Additional voting results are available here.
 
The delay in final numbers is due to Washington’s mail-in only ballot system.  All ballots postmarked by November 5 will be counted.  According to Brian Zylstra, a spokesman for Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State, the election night results often only reflect about 60 percent of the votes that will be received. 
 
Elizabeth Larter, spokeswoman for the “Yes on I-522” campaign said that she is optimistic that the final results will support the measure, pointing out that voters in King County – “the state’s most populous and home to Seattle – who have supported the measure in polling, tend to mail their ballots at the last minute, and so election results often “take a couple of days to catch up.”
 
“This is a clear victory for Washington consumers, taxpayers, and family farmers across our state,” said Dana Bieber, spokeswoman for the “No on 522” campaign, according to a Reuters article available here.
 
A group of food and biotech companies including General Mills, Nestle USA, PepsiCo, Monsanto, DuPont and others were key contributors to the campaign against I-522 which raised about $22 million.  In contrast, roughly $7.9 million was raised by supporters of the labeling initiative. 
 
A similar labeling measure narrowly failed in California’s 2012 election by a vote of 51.4 percent against to 48.6 percent in favor.

 

A recent article on “Non-GMO Labeling” by Staff Attorneys for the National Agricultural Law Center is available here.  For more information on food labeling, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.