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Know What You Eat
Case for food labeling

For a campaign against “a costly and burdensome” initiative, they went all out on this one.

On Tuesday, the corporate-backed “No on I-522” campaign tipped the ballots, failing the GMO-labeling initiative.

Packing a whopping $22 million dollars with backers like Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association funding the initiative’s opposition, it wasn't hard to foresee the outcome: Initiative I-522 was simply out-advertised almost three to one. The No to I-522 campaign spared no expense filling the airways with prime-time advertisements blasting the initiative as “badly written and deceptive.”

So what’s all the fuss?

The failed initiative would have created a mandate to label all genetically modified food products. The GMO label would have been the proof that the food we consume on a daily basis has been manufactured beyond natural capabilities. Much of the opposition advertisements claimed that the initiative was “an attempt by the organic food industry to stigmatize the competition,” as claimed by a Tacoma News Tribune editorial. But the fact is that many of these large corporations would rather spend millions in opposition of labeling instead of actually changing their farming practices. So what it all comes down to is maintaining the unregulated production of consumables. This shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Last week, the New York Times’ Anahad O’Connor reported findings on a Canadian study from the University of Guelph where herbal supplements were run through DNA test and checked for the concentration levels in popular over-the-counter supplements like St. John’s Wort, Ginko Biloba and Echinacea. One third of the 44 supplements tested found complete substitutions (senna for St. John’s Wort), partial substitutions (black walnut for ginko biloba), or no supplement at all where soy and rice or wheat fillers took up the place of actual supplements.

Why would I bring this up? We’re talking about food, not supplements.

No. What we are talking about is the regulation of food products and the dissemination of information based on the integrity of consumables. There are plenty of unregulated consumables that pass over our grocery store counters every day, and the majority of the consumers eat these products unknowingly.

“Sure, I’d rather eat non-GMO food,” a friend of mine said. “But I just don’t know, so I buy what I always have.”

It is hard to tell which is safe and which is not. As I walk down the aisles in the grocery store, I see bright-colored packages, masked from their real identity. Not knowing which product will be harmful for my family makes me feel like we are playing roulette with our future generations.

But the fight against unregulated food sources is not over. The initiative’s largest donor, David Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, continues to work toward regulation and labeling after last year’s defeat of Proposition 37 in California. Bronner, along with I-522 chair, State Senator Maralyn Chase, remain hopeful. “Food labeling is a new political movement that will not go away: We have influenced people.”

So how can we defeat the big business and corporate food conglomerates when they are willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to keep us in the dark about the food we buy in grocery stores?

By becoming a political consumer. Every time a consumer purchases a non-GMO food product, it is a statement. Websites like NonGMOProject offer the names and products that use GMO-free options and information about genetically engineered products and their effects on the body and the environment. “Make empowered decisions,” says Bronner.

If you are for the labeling of GMO products, then make a political action in your purchases. Buy as an informed consumer. Buy local. Buy critically. Buy with intention.


Have a comment? >>

It sure would have been better if this was a national initiative. I don't think the individual states should get involved in FDA type business. That's what a national government is for.

Bill Karro


Listening to some of the discussions and forums on the radio before the election it was apparent that a large portion of our citizenry are very confused about GMO's and that it may be very important to have our food products appropriately labelled. After all, it is our right to know.

I have noticed at Hanks that some companies are now including a NO GMO tag on the packaging. I would like to encourage our local producers to follow this proactive approach...if nothing else to better inform the consumers of their products. Just because some food product is local does not necessarily mean it is GMO free.

Bill Miller