Topic: initiative 522
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November 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM
Initiative 522 is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars ["Food-label vote may have D.C. impact,” page one, Oct. 30].
Don’t get me wrong, I am completely pro-organic and pro local food, but labeling which food is genetically modified is not going to change anything — other than the amount of money in our pockets.
People who are already interested in organic and local food are already educated on what they are buying and eating. They are the people who shop at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and co-ops. They are the people who support fair trade and spend their Saturdays at the farmers’ market. They can tell whether their food is genetically modified because they care enough to look before purchasing.
Initiative 522 wouldn’t benefit those people who already know, and it certainly won’t benefit the people who don’t care now. People who aren’t already supporting organic and local food companies aren’t going to change their way of life just because their food is now labeled in big letters: GMO. It’s common knowledge that if it doesn’t say organic, it contains GMOs.
Hailey Young, Bellingham
November 4, 2013 at 4:27 PM
Accept the scientific facts
The I-522 debate is a religion versus science debate, especially when likened to kosher labeling [“Food-label vote may have D.C. impact,” page one, Oct. 30].
Paranoia over GMOs illustrates the growing scientific illiteracy in society. GMO organisms are made through a process. The benefits are numerous, but each product needs to be evaluated on its own merit, not as a group. The evaluation of the usefulness and safety of each product is expensive (which favors multinational corporations).
Marketers have long discovered that we tend to make the least risky choice (not necessarily the best), and the tactic of sowing the seeds of doubt is powerful. What labeling will do is “brand” an element of doubt in consumers’ minds, despite the plethora of science supporting the usefulness and safety of a particular GMO product.
This will limit development and availability of this important advance in food technology and the myriad current and future benefits. So, the initiative, heralded as a “right to know” issue, is actually an edict on a belief in the evils of the process versus the scientific method’s ability to evaluate safety and efficacy. If society continues to reject science, we are on a slippery slope of being at the whims of the best marketers and not the best objective information.
Hugh Mitchell, Kirkland
This initiative is all about choice
We haven’t had enough time to evaluate GMO foods. Remember Thalidomide, the morning sickness pill? It was deemed safe by the researchers: They “couldn’t find a dose large enough to kill a rat.” Yet after it had been in use for a number of years, babies began showing up in obstetrics with deformed and missing limbs.
Thousands of children worldwide were condemned to a handicapped life because researchers weren’t thorough enough in their research.
Give the consumer a choice. Those who wish to buy GMO foods can do so. This initiative is all about choice. Don’t force all of us to be in the dark about what is in the food we consume.
Charles Hodson, Federal Way
November 4, 2013 at 6:35 AM
Don’t let the greed of companies dictate what you eat
In response to the letter by Ryland Bydalek [“I-522: draw conclusions from evidence,” Opinion, Oct. 30], this controversy over GMOs is still in its infancy.
Present knowledge is still too incomplete to make a definitive decision about the true effects of it on the human system. I’m no biologist, but the past should give anyone pause.
A couple of things I remember: DDT, sold for many years as an insecticide all over the world; “Silent Spring” by Rachael Carson; Agent Orange in the Vietnam War; the use of fire retardants in children’s clothing; etc.
Pay particular attention that in the roughly five years of heavy use of Roundup Ready crops, the weeds are becoming immune to it and heavier doses are needed. I wonder if Bydalek’s studies of microbiology have given him any indication of how Roundup is initiating changes in the DNA structure of weeds; or will affect humans given another decade.
The only reason for the crop DNA to be modified is to resist Roundup. There is a strong case to be made for long-term studies in medicine to ensure we’re not doing severe harm to our children’s children. What’s the hurry? It’s only the greed of the companies making this stuff.
For the time being — in my case, the rest of my life — let’s at least label it so you enthusiasts can gobble food all you want. Make sure you’re getting an adequate dose, and the rest of us will make up our own minds.
Randall Schwab, Langley
November 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Ballard High School students share their thougths
Various points of I-522 have been highly debated [“Growing debate over genetically engineered food,” page one, Oct. 29].
Personally, I think if the initiative passed, the Washington state consumer wouldn’t care and would buy the food product anyway. This is the same reason why people might still buy fast food after being shown the amount of calories on the label.
The initiative was written properly because the side opposing the measure argues that some “GMO meat” is not going to be labeled. This is because the food that cattle or other animals eat is genetically modified, but the actual meat is not genetically modified. So that is why “GMO meat” will not be labeled.
Washington farmers should have no reason to be against this bill. The average consumer wants what they want and doesn’t care if food is GMO or not.
Nicholas Yand, Ballard
Right to know won’t affect food prices
Before I heard about I-522, I didn’t know much about GMOs in general. But with the help of my science teacher, I learned that the pro I-522 groups mainly claim that the consumers have the right to know what they’re eating.
Anti I-522 groups claim that passing the initiative would increase food cost for Washington families.
In my class activity, I played the role of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA’s role is to regulate food and make sure it is safe for the public. It’s hard for the FDA to choose a side because neither side provides enough information to support its claim.
I personally support I-522 because I think people have the right to know what’s in their food and I don’t think it would affect food prices. While a labeling system is already used, it is not hard to label GMO products at the same time.
Tashi Tsering, Seattle
October 31, 2013 at 7:30 AM
There is a lot we don’t know about the risks of GMOs
Ryland Bydalek’s letter arguing that there is no scientific basis for supporting I-522 fails to acknowledge that scientists do not uniformly agree regarding the safety of GMOs [“I-522: Draw conclusions from evidence,” Opinion, Oct. 30].
The Union of Concerned Scientists states: “While the risks of genetic engineering have sometimes been exaggerated or misrepresented, GE crops do have the potential to cause a variety of health problems and environmental impacts.”
The organization cites one already significant environmental impact: “Overuse of herbicide-tolerant GE crops has spurred an increase in herbicide use and an epidemic of herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds,’ which will lead to even more herbicide use.” Finally, the UCS concludes that “there is a lot that we don’t know about the risks of GE.”
To me, this is a valid reason to be suspicious of the more than $5 million Monsanto has poured into the anti I-522 campaign, and to support the concept that consumers have a right to information about the way their food is grown.
Selden Prentice, Seattle
October 29, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Science points out that GMOs are safe for human consumption
As a senior in microbiology at the University of Washington, my education has been based upon making decisions and drawing conclusions from evidence [“I-522: Ads stretch truth on what foods would be labeled, left out,” page one, Oct. 23].
So when I hear the supporters of I-522 spew their anti-GMO rhetoric without legitimate evidence, it flies in the face of everything I’ve been taught.
An overwhelming majority of scientific and medical experts including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences and even the World Health Organization have all agreed that GMOs are safe for human consumption. Why are we being asked to ignore the experts and submit to the fear the proponents are pushing?
The American Medical Association says, “There is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods.” So what justification is there? I-522 would put what is functionally a warning label on foods tricking consumers into believing they have something to fear.
Legislating with fear and the rejection of facts has never been a good strategy. This measure is nothing but fear mongering by those with an anti-science, anti-corporation slant bent on forcing their own unfounded fears down our throats.
They can’t scare me away from the truth.
Ryland Bydalek, Kenmore
October 29, 2013 at 6:20 AM
Remember the taxpayer cost to oversee relabeling
The backers of Initiative 522, the initiative that requires labeling of genetically altered foods, want us to approve their initiative because, “You have the right to know.”
Know what? If there was anything important for us to know don’t you think they would be using that as the reason you should vote yes? If the only thing they can come up with is “you have the right to know” then they must have a very weak case.
My suspicion is that this is an attempt by the natural- and organic-food industry to gain a marketing advantage over the rest of the food industry. And we are supposed to believe that every item in our grocery stores, all 40,000 items, will get relabeled and it won’t cost us anything. Oh sure.
Then there’s the taxpayer cost of a new state agency to oversee compliance. All because we have the right to know. After 100 years of genetically altering food there must be something we need to know other than it’s better and cheaper.
Jerry Forell, Kirkland
October 27, 2013 at 7:05 AM
A yes vote on I-522 will only increase irrational fear of GMOs
I think there is a very important piece of the I-522 discussion that is not being verbalized [“I-522: Ads stretch truth on what foods would be labeled, left out,” page one, Oct. 23].
I will be voting no on I-522, but not because it is “misleading” or will “be expensive” or due to other popular reasons for voting against it. There are many people saying that we need to vote yes on this measure because it is our right as consumers to know the content of our food. I completely agree. However, I do not see why it is imperative that we label GMOs.
There is no credible evidence that GMOs are dangerous for human consumption. None. If there were actually a health risk, the FDA and other departments would remove these products from production. Don’t believe this? Go look on the websites of unbiased researchers.
I think that it is important to vote no, because voting yes increases people’s irrational fear that ingesting GMOs will morph them and change their DNA. I think we do a disservice to others by encouraging this fear. There are more important things we should be doing with our time than being gullible to these arguments, and there are definitely better campaigns to get behind and donate your money to than this one!
Honestly, it does not matter how this vote turns out, because at the end of the day, GMOs are still in your food, and they are still not dangerous.
Karla Ruff, Seattle
October 25, 2013 at 6:33 AM
GMOs a national issue
Editor, The Times:
I have voted no on Initiative 522, not because I am against labeling genetically modified food products (I think it is a good idea), but because this is a national issue that should be addressed at the federal level to ensure standard labeling criteria throughout the nation [“I-522: Ads stretch truth on what foods would be labeled, left out,” page one, Oct. 23].
The state of Washington has no business dictating to the nation what should or should not be on a food label. Other states may develop their own regulations in response to I-522 and those laws may be incompatible with each other. This confusion will increase food prices as food companies try to comply with conflicting regulations.
One of the advertisements for I-522 on TV states that 64 countries in Europe have laws worded similarly as I-522 and food prices have not increased.
We are a nation of 50 states with our own constitutions and regulations. Sometimes it takes the federal government to make some things work.
My food prices might not increase but my taxes will.
Allan M. Schneider, Bellevue
October 24, 2013 at 7:04 PM
How much does it cost to change a label?
The ads we’ve seen show a physician on one side of the argument and a nutritionist on the other. Both well-credentialed. So whom do we believe? I don’t know. But I can use my common sense to figure this one out.
First, how long does it take to change a label? A few minutes for one person on a computer. The cost? Pretty negligible. Companies change their labels all the time for one reason or another. No big deal. So how would I-522 cost the public millions? It wouldn’t.
The cost of relabeling our foods would be to those corporations (Coca-Cola, Nestle, Pepsi, Campbell’s Soup, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Hormel and more who contributed mightily to the anti I-522 campaign). These companies know that a whole bunch of people won’t buy their product if they know what’s in it. I want to know what’s in my food so that I can decide for myself. Don’t you want to know, too?
Dozens of countries around the world — including the entire European Union, Australia, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia and South Africa, among others — already label their GMO foods. Whom has it hurt? Not the people. Don’t keep letting big corporations fool you into voting against your own best interests. Use your common sense.
Dana Heald, La Conner
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