Monday, September 16, 2013

NO on 522 Campaign Launches Television Ads Featuring Family Farmers, Physician and Prominent State Leaders - Vote No on 522

NO on 522 Campaign Launches Television Ads Featuring Family Farmers, Physician and Prominent State Leaders - Vote No on 522:

Yes on 522 Campaign Also Starts TV Ads Which Make Patently False and Misleading Claims

Seattle – The No on 522 campaign launched its first television ads today that will air throughout Washington state. The advertisements feature family farmers and state leaders explaining numerous flaws in the initiative.

Also today, the Yes on 522 campaign began airing its first television ads which contain multiple claims that are false and misleading.

No on I-522 is rotating four ads throughout the state. They feature the following prominent individuals:

  1. Dan Newhouse, Former Director, Washington Department of Agriculture.  Newhouse highlights the confusing and absurd requirements and exemptions in I-522. I-522’s labeling requirements would exempt two-thirds of the foods sold in Washington, even when those foods contain or are made with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. I-522 would not provide consumers with reliable information about which foods contain GE ingredients and which do not. As an example highlighting the absurdity of I-522’s exemptions, Newhouse points out the fact that while pet food would require labeling under I-522, meat for human consumption would not require a label, even when the meat comes from animals fed GE hay or grain. I-522’s regulations apply to “any food offered for retail sale in Washington” (Initiative 522, Section (3)(1)). Washington’s statutory definition of “food” is set forth in Title 69 of the Revised Code of Washington – the current statute concerning labeling of food, drugs and cosmetics in Washington.  Under that statute, “food” means “articles used for food or drink for people or other animals” (RCW 69.04.008(1) (emphasis added)). Further, proponents of I-522 have previously stated that their goal is to achieve consistency with mandatory GE labeling laws in other countries, such as those in the European Union, and under these foreign regulations, mandatory labeling of GE ingredients in pet food is required.

  2. Ken Eikenberry, Former Washington State Attorney General.  Eikenberry explains that I-522 would provide consumers with misleading information about the foods we buy, stating that I-522 is the “opposite of truth in labeling.”  Because of I-522’s poorly written requirements, many foods would be required to be labeled as “genetically engineered” under I-522, even if the food products themselves are not genetically engineered and have no GE content.  Further, because I-522 is so full of special exemptions,many foods would be exempt from the labeling requirements, even when they contain genetically engineered ingredients.  I-522 fails on its fundamental promise to voters: it would not give consumers reliable or accurate information about which foods contain GE ingredients and which do no.


  3. Brenda Alford, third-generation family farmer from Pasco.  Alford’s family farm is a certified non-GMO farm, yet I-522 would impose costly and burdensome new regulations on all Washington family farmers, whether or not they grow GE crops, she explains. Family farmers, food producers, grocers and retailers would have to implement separate and distinct systems to grow, handle, process, transport and sell food products in Washington. Farmers and food producers would also have to create extensive new record-keeping systems to track all food products and ingredients intended for sale in Washington in order to comply with I-522’s verification requirements and to avoid the threat of lawsuits. These new requirements would add millions of dollars in costs for Washington farmers and food producers. Ultimately, these costs would be passed on to consumers through higher food prices. In fact, an economic study by the Washington Research Council found that I-522 would increase food costs for the average family by more than $450 per year (Washington Research Council Report on I-522, September 2013). 

  4. Dr. Peter Marsh, Former President, Washington State Medical Association. Dr. Marsh points out that I-522’s labeling requirements have no scientific justification and would provide inaccurate and misleading information to consumers.  Dr. Marsh references the official position taken last year by the American Medical Association that “there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered [genetically modified] foods.”

Yes on 522 Advertisement Contains Patently False and Misleading Claims.

In one of its initial television advertisements that began airing today, Yes on 522 makes a number of false and misleading claims.

Among the false claims in Yes on 522’s ad:
  • The advertisement falsely contends the implementation of I-522 would “not cost a dime.” The Office of Financial Management’s fiscal impact statement for I-522 states:  “Known state agency implementation costs are estimated at $3,368,000 over six fiscal years.” And, in fact, a study of I-522 done by the Washington Research Council concluded that these costs are grossly underestimated.  The Washington Research Council report estimates that state government costs for implementation and enforcement of I-522’s regulations would exceed $22 million per year.  In addition, the report estimates that I-522 would increase grocery costs for a family of four by more than $450 per year (Washington Research Council Report on I-522, September 2013).  The claim that I-522 “won’t cost a dime” is clearly false and defies simple common sense.
  • The advertisement falsely claims I-522 would apply only to food sold in grocery stores.  The express language of the initiative makes clear the initiative’s labeling requirements and penalties apply to “any food offered for retail sale in Washington” – not just food sold in grocery stores (Initiative 522, Sec. 3(1)).  Although the drafters have included a litany of exemptions, the initiative plainly applies well beyond food sold at grocery stores.
  • The advertisement falsely contends I-522 would only affect food already labeled in packages.  I-522 would apply to food items such as individual fruits, vegetables and seed stock, which are not currently packaged and labeled.  Indeed, the initiative has express provisions requiring the labeling of shelves for a “commodity that is not separately packaged or labeled” (Initiative 522, Sec. 3(1)(a)) and for labeling of containers or sales receipts for unpackaged seed and seed stock (Initiative 522, Sec. 3(1)(c)).

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