Friday, February 1, 2013

PCC joins push for new law requiring GMO labeling | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times

PCC joins push for new law requiring GMO labeling | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times

The Seattle-based grocery chain said it will spend $100,000 to help collect signatures in support of legislative Initiative 522, which would require labeling in Washington of food with GMOs. The company also has launched an in-store signature-gathering campaign.

"Don't make any mistake, this is chemical companies" opposing labeling, said Trudy Bialic, director of public affairs at PCC. "It's the same people who brought us Agent Orange, DDT and PCBs, and they're saying now, 'Trust us with your food.' And people are saying, 'No, we want to know what's in it.' "

Opponents of I-522 say state labeling requirements are unnecessary and would become expensive for food companies and ultimately consumers, particularly if states pass varying laws.

Much of the U.S. food supply already contains genetically modified ingredients.

More than half of the corn and soybeans grown in this country come from genetically modified seeds, which means DNA was taken from one species and inserted into the DNA of another to create a particular type of plant, such as higher-yielding corn or a redder tomato.

Proponents say GMOs can boost the food supply and that genetic modification has taken place for centuries in the form of grafting trees and selecting crops for certain traits.

Indeed, the World Health Organization says it has not been shown that human health has been affected as a result of eating genetically modified foods.

Opponents say GMOs raise health concerns, in part because the inserted DNA sometimes comes from animals, bacteria and virusrs, not plants. They also dislike that GMO plants can cross-pollinate onto non-GMO farms, creating crops that are genetically modified even though farmers may not want them to be and may have trouble marketing them.

Then there is the export issue.

I-522 was filed by Chris McManus and his wife, Leah, a couple from Tacoma who eat vegan, organic food. After they watched GMO labeling bills die in the state House and Senate earlier this year, they decided something had to be done.

The owner of a small advertising firm, Chris McManus says he has spent the past six months putting his career "on hold to do this." He soon will start receiving a campaign manager's salary of $1,500 a month.

The state Public Disclosure Commission shows his cash contributions are only $260, but in-kind contributions from the couple and his firm total $8,758, which includes building the website

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