Published on December 5th, 2012 | by Tanya Sitton15
GMO Update: WA Next Contender for Viable Labeling Law?
Thanks to intensive and often deceptive marketing by Monsanto and other ‘Big Food’ megacorporations, CA’s Prop 37 didn’t quite make it — though it came very close! Despite being outspent 5 to 1, pro-labeling forces claimed 47% of the vote last month.
Energized by the near-victory, labeling advocates in 30 states are ramping up legislative efforts to require fair labeling of GMO foods. Washington state looks poised to step up as the next big battleground: if advocates for initiative I-522 obtain enough signatures by the end of December, WA voters could see a ballot measure requiring GMO labeling as soon as November 2013. They need your help — read on, for what you can do to support Washington’s GMO labeling efforts!
WA: Batter Up!
The Label It WA team has collected about 230,000 signatures towards getting this labeling initiative before voters. They need about 100,000 more by the end of December, to make sure they clear the threshhold of 241,153 signatures necessary to get I-522 on the November 2013 ballot.
Washington offers some strategic advantages to the labeling movement, as compared to California. According to the Organic Consumers’ Association,
I-522 already has strong support from Washington farmers, ranchers, and dairies, both organic and conventional, who are up in arms about the economic and environmental threats posed by genetically engineered wheat, apples, and alfalfa. Plus, Washington is far smaller than California in terms of population and registered voters and boasts a powerful network of co-ops, independent natural food stores, and grassroots organizations who are already fully on board with the campaign.
In addition, Washington’s new Governor, Jay Inslee, is a longtime Congressional supporter of GE food labeling and organic agriculture. According to Washington State law, if the state legislature feels there is majority support for a ballot initiative, in this case mandatory GE food labeling, they can pass it into law before it goes for a statewide vote in November 2013.
It’s also worth noting that even as Prop 37 was being narrowly defeated last month in CA, voters in San Juan county, Washington, turned out to ban GMO crops:
Measure No. 2012-4, led by organic farmers and other citizens, makes it illegal to “propagate, cultivate, raise or grow plants, animals and other organisms which have been genetically modified.”
That anti-GMO measure passed with 61% of the vote.
Big food companies made defeating CA’s Prop 37 their ‘highest priority,’ last month, and — with upwards of $45 million spent on deceptive anti-labeling advertising — it worked. But with such overwhelming support from both voters and the state’s governor, and the potential for I-522 to become law before a vote is even held, Washington’s labeling movement just might be more than they can handle!
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Millions Against Monsanto.