Cindy Black, right, and Jill Hill in Tacoma, Wash., Oct. 17, in a car with a giant apple on top to promote voting yes on I-522, which would require genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such in the state.AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
A bitter fight in Washington state over whether to label foods with ingredients that have been genetically modified has attracted tens of millions of dollars in spending, more than $27 million if you add the funds of both sides together.
The amount of cash and other donations rivals previous fiercely fought battles for the state's Senate seats instead of what some might consider an arcane issue of food safety.
Washington voters go to the polls Nov. 5. Their decision follows a contest in California last year in which a similar plan to label foodstuffs with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was defeated.
The dispute has raised passions on all sides in the state — as well as attracted the interest of hugely powerful lobbyist groups and giant corporations. Supporters of the measure — known as I-522, the People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act — see a cause rooted in transparency, environmental awareness and the free flow of information between companies and consumers.
Opponents, meanwhile, who have raised most of their campaign funds from biotech and food corporations, argue that the mandate to label GMOs is a poorly written and inefficient law that would burden farmers and ultimately raise prices on grocery store shelves. They also say GMO food ingredients are perfectly safe.