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September 26, 2013 at 7:26 AM
The right to know
The Seattle Times has recently published some articles about Initiative 522, the initiative on labeling food products that contain GMOs (genetically engineered organisms) on the upcoming ballot in Washington state. [“GMO labeling campaigns raising near-record money,” page one, Sept. 25.]
After reading all these articles, I have even more concerns about what is in the foods we eat. Of course I don’t want to spend more on food. Nor do I want costly expenses on businesses. Nor do I wish to be hoodwinked by large chemical corporations who seek to alter a vegetable such as a beet into a genetically engineered “supersugar” seed.
There have been increases over the last 60 years in documentation of cancers, brain disease, morbid obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and even mental-health issues throughout society. It seems plausible that our foods’ ingredients could hold some major keys to our poor health.
One has to ask why a few agrochemical companies would spend more than $11 million in our state to keep us from knowing more information about genetically engineered ingredients in our foods.
I have my own opinion as to why. But I must say, my “right to know” cannot be sold. We deserve to know what is in our food. More importantly, we have the right to.
Julia Sheriden, Seattle
September 19, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Science doesn’t support I-522
Initiative 522 on Washington’s November general election ballot — to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods — should be soundly defeated.
While popular among the uninformed, it is misguided and opposed by our state’s agricultural leaders. I-522 fosters needless fears and will cost consumers and taxpayers millions.
As a physician, I am concerned about the anti-science agenda being pushed by I-522 backers. Over 440 peer-reviewed scientific studies conducted over the past 20 years by such organizations as the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have shown GE foods are safe and even beneficial to farmers, consumers and the environment.
The American Medical Association has concluded there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods.
I-522 backers also fail to mention that a new state government bureaucracy would be needed to monitor the labels on countless products in each and every store across the state, without dedicating any money to pay for it.
Finally, I-522 creates a whole new class of lawsuits against farmers and food processors.
Please vote no on I-522.
Robert Wood, Seattle
September 16, 2013 at 7:26 PM
It begs the question
The Times reported that DuPont Pioneer has joined with Monsanto in donating millions of dollars to try to defeat Initiative 522, which would require foods with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled. [“Agribusinesses give nearly $8 million to campaign against GMO labeling,” seattletimes.com, Sept. 13.]
If the genetically modified grains these companies sell are at least as healthful to consumers as are the non-modified grains, why are they trying to hide the fact that such grains are included in what we eat?
They should be perhaps using those millions to promote their products instead of fighting disclosure, shouldn’t they?
Tom Wingard-Phillips, Seattle
September 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM
More than 350,000 Washington voters signed the petition to bring Initiative 522, an act to label genetically engineered foods, to the ballot here in Washington. [“Monsanto gives $4.6M to foes of GMO labeling,” NW Wednesday, Sept. 11.]
So far, Monsanto, who is the biggest agricultural profiteer of genetically modified foods in the world, has already dumped $4.6 million into the No on 522 Coalition.
Three other large agricultural companies that produce hybrid seeds and pesticides — Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences and Dupont Pioneer — are also spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
Not one of those companies is based in Washington state, yet they are determined to keep Washington voters from winning the right to honest labeling of their food.
Don’t let Monsanto and other agricultural profiteers buy your vote.
Emily Bishton, Seattle
A right to know
I want to know whether a given food product has genetically modified ingredients.
I am educated, informed and concerned about the amount of influence Monsanto and other commercial-food producers have over this issue.
They have generally shown themselves to be entirely self-interested and profit-motivated in the past, and don’t seem to prioritize long-term public health very highly. They don’t appear to be good corporate citizens.
Please don’t let these companies frighten Washington voters with a large and depressingly effective scare-tactic advertising campaign.
Get their money out of politics and this decision. Make them improve their transparency and make them accountable to the public.
I feel I have a right to know whether there are genetically modified ingredients in the foods I eat and feed to my children. Let’s encode that into law.
Russell Cork, Bremerton
September 3, 2013 at 7:26 AM
The right to know
In California, chemical companies like Monsanto spent millions of dollars to narrowly defeat a “Right to Know” ballot initiative that would have required food manufacturers to label foods produced with genetically engineered crops.
Consumers demanded information, but big corporations preferred we remain ignorant.
It’s not just the chemical companies that don’t want us to know what is in our food. The Grocery Manufactures Association (GMA) — a food industry trade association that represents the world’s largest branded food, beverage and consumer product companies — just donated 1.75 million dollars to defeat a similar ballot initiative (I-522) in Washington.
This group is willing to spend nearly $2 million to keep us in the dark about genetically engineered foods. It makes you wonder, what else they are hiding? Just what exactly are they putting in their products? We should have a right to know!
Elizabeth Kucinich, policy director of the Center for Food Safety, Washington, D.C.
August 23, 2013 at 4:23 PM
Consumer’s right to know
As the “yes” and “no” voters for Initiative 522 present their reasons for labeling genetically modified foods, it reminds me of the debate for labeling organic foods more than 20 years ago. [“Chefs stir the pot on social issues,” NW Arts & Life, Aug. 18.]
Back then, the industry complained of bureaucracy, loopholes for cheaters, cost, lack of necessity, and all the other usual excuses industry uses to foil the consumer into believing them.
I also remember when food labeling was not required at all. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act was enacted in 1967. Industry was opposed to this legislation, for the same reasons listed above.
Today, can you imagine a grocery store filled with products with inconsistently sized packaging, no ingredient list and no sell-by date? Or no labeling of organic ingredients or products?
Initiative 522 is just a continuation of the consumer’s right to know what’s in the product, plain and simple. Whether you are for, against, or don’t care about genetically modified foods is not really the issue. It’s about providing information to the consumer.
Industry can and will adapt; they just like to complain. Vote for Initiative 522 to keep truth in packaging and labeling at the forefront of the consumer’s right to know!
Patricia Pyle, Olympia
August 19, 2013 at 7:04 PM
An imperfect solution to an imperfect dilemma
Initiative 522 is not perfect. [“On voters’ plates: genetically engineered crops,” page one, Aug. 11.]
However, it is not a perfect world. In a perfect world, federal law would not permit Monsanto to sue for patent infringement for the spread of patented genes that they are making no efforts to contain.
In a perfect world, the effects of genetically modified crops on other crops, farm animals and surrounding wildlife would be taken into account before approving them for market.
In a perfect world, safety testing on genetically modified organisms would include all anticipated uses, whether the products are meant for human or animal consumption, or for compost.
In a perfect world, we could anticipate all the ramifications of genetic modifications for generations to come before we bring crops to market.
And yes, in a perfect world, not all genetically engineered foods would be lumped together in the same basket. But, in a perfect world, it would be much easier to separate the safe and ethical products from the unsafe and unethical.
Initiative 522 is a start — and remember, the initiative is about labeling, not prohibiting. It gives both the consumers and the people producing and distributing foods choices about how to go forward, and what Washingtonian can’t support choice?
Monica Zipp, Seattle
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