For many, the Washington referendum is a replay of 2012, when California residents were presented with Proposition 37, a ballot initiative that would have created a statewide law requiring GMO foods to be labeled. Despite the grassroots effort that led to the referendum, Proposition 37 was defeated.
Why? California voters were inundated by a heavily-funded “no” campaign. GMO giant Monsanto, along with companies like Hershey, poured more than $44 million to defeat the ballot initiative.
Those in favor of labeling raised just $7 million to get their message across. Chief among the arguments perpetuated by companies like Monsanto was one rooted in food costs. If California required labeling, companies would have to put extra money into adhering to the process, and costs would weigh down on consumers at the supermarket, they argued.
That argument is now playing out in Washington State. As the nation works its way out of the Great Recession, the mention of higher food prices is enough to make most people at least stop and think. Yet the coalition of those in favor of labeling are winning from a grassroots level: mothers, farmers and average residents are becoming aware of and fighting for the opportunity to know what is in their food.