Washington state voters look ready to deliver the country’s first mandatory GMO labeling law with no strings attached early next month.
But the food and biotechnology industries are far from giving up in their battle against labeling requirements for food containing genetically modified organisms and, in fact, have several more arrows in their quill — including a bill to preempt all state laws.
The cost borne by hard-working Washington farmers will be passed on to consumers, they say. In a Sept. 16 study prepared for the No on I-522 campaign, Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants found, if passed, the law would increase food expenditures for a family of four by at least $360 per year. A study by consumer groups, released Oct. 7, suggests instead that the added cost would only amount to $2.20 per year per person.
Also like in California, multiple newspaper editors have taken stands against the labeling initiative.
“All in all, the initiative holds the potential to create more problems than it solves — for farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers,” the editorial board of the Yakima Herald says in a column published Sept. 29. “Food makers and retailers already can use labels to inform consumers if they offer foods free of GMO; if advocates wish to further their cause, they can do so in a market-driven manner, by building demand through publicizing what they offer.”