Posted September 13, 2013
 
Over 30 Washington state agricultural groups oppose an initiative that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods if passed by voters in November, according to a Capital Press article available here. 
 
Initiative 522 would require labeling for foods produced with genetic engineering or containing genetically engineered ingredients.  Any offered for retail sale in Washington that does not comply with the initiative would be “misbranded.”  The text of initiative 522 is available here.  The initiative “exempts inputs for meats and organics, but is silent on inputs of other products like apples.”  According to the initiative, polls “consistently show that the vast majority of the public, typically more than ninety percent, want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering.”
 
Kirk Mayer, manager of Washington Growers Clearing House Association said, “The main concern we have is potential mislabeling issues.”  Mayer said, “It is unclear if growers could be liable for mislabeling if they do not identify GM chemicals and fertilizers used in growing fruit.”
 
Mike LaPlant, a Washington hay grower and president of the Washington Farm Bureau said that the initiative “would force Washington farmers and food companies to implement costly new labeling, packaging, distribution and record keeping that does not exist in other states.”
 
The Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) is also “strongly opposed” to the initiative, according to another Capital Press article, available here.  While genetically modified wheat is not commercially grown in the United States, the “association and other in the industry believe the introduction of GMO wheat is at least 10 years away.” 
 
WAWG president Ryan Kregger, called the initiative “misleading,” saying that requiring mandatory labeling of GM crops “falsely implies that there is a difference between them and crops produced through traditional methods, when the foods are indistinguishable.”