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(229 posts)

I-522 ~ Written Interview by DBP


  1. Below is an interview I did with Elizabeth Larter from the "Yes on 522" campaign.*

    If you recall from earlier discussions here, I-522 is a proposed law that, if approved by voters, will require Washington food stores to label certain products that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs.)

    This thread is dedicated to Waterworld, who inspired me to follow up with the I-522 folks and try to answer at least some of her questions about the initiative.

    DBP: Briefly, what is I-522 and why do you think it’s important to the people of Washington State?

    I-522: A “yes” vote on Initiative 522 (I-522) would give Washington consumers more information about what’s in their food. Under this initiative, genetically engineered foods, like corn or soy, or foods with genetically engineered ingredients like chips, cold cereals, soft drinks, and candy would be required to be labeled as such.

    I-522 is important because Washington consumers should have the right to know what’s in the food they and their families eat. Our food is already labeled with abundant nutritional information including calories, fat, sodium and vitamins. Many foods, from fruits and vegetables to fish, have Country of Origin labels. And, lastly, American companies selling food products are already required to label genetically engineered food in 64 other countries, including the EU and its member states, Japan and China.

    For more info about Yes on 522, check out our new website, http://www.yeson522.com.
     
     
    DBP: What are some of the questions people have been asking you about it?

    I-522: One of the misconceptions that our opposition has claimed is that labeling genetically engineered food would drive up food costs. And yet, even former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection David Byrne noted that labeling GMO food “did not result in increased costs, despite the horrifying (double-digit) predictions of some interests.”
     
     
    DBP: I’ve heard that there are several exemptions in the initiative language. For example, alcohol will be exempt, and meat, dairy, and eggs produced using GMO feeds will not have to be labeled. To some people it looks like you’ve made sweetheart deals on this . . . Will that hurt the initiative’s chances?

    I-522: I-522 was modeled after global genetically engineered labeling standards and the authors worked to make sure Washington’s labeling laws would not be stricter than global standards once I-522 passes. If Washington had required stricter labeling standards than other countries that require GMO labeling, it could have an adverse economic impact for our farmers and food producers.
     
     
    DBP: A similar initiative was proposed in California and failed (Prop 37). Why was that? What lessons have the I-522 folks learned from the California experience?

    I-522: Let’s not forget that despite agri-business spending well over $45 million, they barely defeated the measure. Prop 37 heightened awareness of this issue and advanced the national dialogue about food labeling. For example, since the California measure failed in November 2012, Whole Foods announced this spring that they would require all of their products to have GMO labels by 2018 and many grocery stores have come out opposed to genetically engineered fish (GE Fish).

    “Yes on 522” is doing things a little differently. With the excitement and momentum from JustLabelItWa turning in over 300,000 signatures to get I-522 on the ballot, we have a head start on public interest and engagement. Our community, partner groups, businesses, Republicans and Democrats, moms and dads, fishing families and farmers are coming together early and working together on I-522 to ensure the Washington consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they and their families eat.
     
     
    DBP: What do you see as some of the challenges to getting I-522 passed? In other words, what do you anticipate the opposition is going to say?

    I-522: The opposition is likely to pour tens of millions into our state just like they did in California. They spent over $45 million to defeat Prop 37. And, just like in California, we expect them to throw around the same, untrue, propaganda about the purpose and impact of this initiative.

    Despite what our opponents might say, labeling is just common sense. Washington consumers have the right to know what’s in their food.
     
     
    DBP: I’m speaking as a consumer now. Let’s say that I just don’t care whether there are GMOs in the food supply one way or other. Why should I vote for this thing?

    I-522: “Yes on 522” is about your ability and right to know what’s in the food you and your family eat. Just like you have the right to know the nutritional content of your breakfast cereal or favorite candy bar, I-522 allows Washington consumers to know whether the food product has been genetically engineered or not. And as Whole Foods global grocery coordinator, Errol Schweizer stated, "We're [Whole Foods] just saying the customer has the right to make an informed choice on what they are feeding themselves and their family."

    For more about “Yes on 522,” please visit our website: http://www.yeson522.com; follow us on Twitter @yeson522; and like us on Facebook: Yes on 522

     

     
     
    *At no time did I represent myself to Ms. Larter as being an employee of WSB or anything other than a private individual who likes to share info with others over the Internet. At no time have I ever done anything other than that with anyone I've talked to in connection with this Blog.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  2. If I can locate an anti-I-522 group, I'll send them to this thread in order to encourage a more informed debate on the subject.

    I have already told Ms. Larter I would do this. Thanks for reading.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  3. Thanks, DBP. Hope you find and anti person. I, for one, want to know what they would say.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  4. It shouldn't be hard to find an anti, Jan. I'll just:

     
     

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  5. well, true

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  6. maplesyrup
    Member Profile

    maplesyrup

    Thanks DBP. If it makes you feel any better I think you add a lot to this forum.

    If you manage to get hold of the anti-522 spokespeople I'd love to hear the rationale behind it driving up food costs, and how they would answer the pro-522's contention that it didn't in Europe.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  7. I have contacted the PR folks at a national farm-lobbying group that opposed Prop 37 and is also opposed to I-522. We'll see what they come back with.

    Meantime, here's more "pro": http://tinyurl.com/ckc9h45

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  8. Hello. I'm strongly against I-522. I'd be happy to discuss the reasons why. I do not represent anybody in particular, but just decided to read up on I-522 when a friend of mine who lives in Walla Walla started recruiting me to the Yes on 522 campaign.

    In my profession (Environmental Health and Safety), I often have to read legal documents, so I immediately read the text of I-522. I was just as immediately appalled by how poorly written it was, and that it would clearly not achieve it's stated goals.

    I am neither in favor, nor against GMO labeling in principle. My objection to I-522 is entirely because I feel it will not do what many believe it will, and puts the burden of compliance on the wrong people.

    I'm happy to elaborate on specific topics if anyone wants to debate the issues.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  9. where does 522 put the burden of compliance
    and why is that the wrong place?

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  10. The burden of compliance would be on the retailer. In the case of produce and bulk items, that's not a real problem. But the vast majority of the food that would be subject to the label law would be packaged foods.

    If packaged foods have no label, the retailer would either need to verify an affidavit stating the food is GM free is available, or not offer the food for retail sale. Foods labeled as "USDA organic" or have a GMO-free verification such as the "Non GMO project" certification would not need additional supporting documentation.

    Where this would be of particular concern is in the case of a retail store like the Husky Deli. They specialize in imported foods, and the likelihood of those foods being properly labeled is small, since the countries of origin would not be compelled to comply with Washington's law. They are also unlikely to have received the "USDA Organic" certification.

    So for imported foods, the retailer would have only two choices: attempt to obtain sworn statements from foreign food manufacturers and keep them on file, or discontinue offering the food for sale.

    The labeling laws of the country of origin or their position on GM foods is irrelevant. Washington's proposed law does not have any provision for food labeled by foreign standards. It MUST have the Washington statement on the front of the package, or fall under one of the listed exemptions. Imported food is not provided a compliance loophole.

    Supporters of I-522 will tell you they are going after big companies like Kraft, Kellogg and Monsanto. The law actually lets them off nearly unscathed. There is absolutely no mention of requiring manufacturers to add labels at the point of production, packaging, wholesale or distribution. It ONLY mentions having labels when the food is "offered for retail sale". Monsanto does not sell retail food. They are completely let off the hook.

    Retailers could be subject to a fine if they do not comply, however the legal issues regarding enforcement and who's responsible would most certainly force these issues into the court room.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  11. I'd like to address maplesyrup's inquiry about how the cost might be higher under I-522 compared to the EU's label laws.

    In Europe, there is a law that stipulates all food products must list GMO ingredients on the food information label. The exact text of the law is as follows:

    " where the food consists of more than one ingredient, the words ‘genetically modified’ or ‘produced from genetically modified (name of the ingredient)’ shall appear in the list of ingredients provided for in Article 6 of Directive 2000/13/EC in parentheses immediately following the ingredient concerned."

    The information is placed on the mandated ingredients list. The same rule applies to all countries in the European Union.

    Under I-522, the GMO label MUST be on the FRONT of the packaging, not on the food information label. This would only be a Washington State requirement. A state like Vermont, that just passed a GMO rule, would allow the message on the back of the package. Food manufacturers would need to set up separate packaging lines to accommodate various state requirements. And since our message is required to be on the front of the package, and not the nutrition label, the Washington packages may have to be redesigned to adequately accommodate the message.

    Additionally, since food manufacturers do not necessarily know which food products would end up in which state, distributors would have to segregate inventories to be sure the Washington labeled food really gets to Washington, and the Vermont food gets to Vermont, etc. This will add cost, as the current food distribution in the US is not this granular.

    Retailers would also be forced to add cost, since they now have to verify each item they stock for it's compliance status. In Europe, the retailer has no significant role in GMO compliance.

    None of these costs are all that high on their own, but when added up, there will be a noticeable cost increase for the consumer.

    The European method of labeling is FAR superior to the method I-522 proposes. In the US, the FDA nutrition label is designed to be easily modifiable, and since it is regulated nationally, everything printed there is legal anywhere in the US. I-522 does not use the nutrition label. It calls for a special label on the front. Silly, if you ask me, but I'm not making this up. That's what it says...

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  12. Myr-myr
    Member Profile

    I, for one, am terribly glad that DBP has started this discussion!

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  13. maplesyrup
    Member Profile

    maplesyrup

    Thanks for the answer, VBD. If you will indulge me a couple of follow-up questions.

    - Why does product destined for WA and VT necessarily have to have its own inventory? Can't the food with the same label also be sold in Oregon, New Hampshire, and elsewhere?

    - I know a little about packaging and basically a revised message on the front of the package most often requires a design change to accommodate the new text. It doesn't cost anything really- unless 522 includes certain specs for the size and appearance of the labeling, requiring larger labels or other more significant changes. Does 522 contain specs for label sizes and whatnot? And, could you give me an example of a food package that would need to be redesigned in order to include the new information?

    BTW I think your example of the imported specialty product labels is interesting and one that probably never occurred to the 522 authors. It will have the unintended consequence of limiting consumer choices because retailers will have to think carefully about what products are worth the effort. However, what happens in Europe in these cases? Don't Spanish olives undergo similar scrutiny, for example?

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  14. The reason for segregated inventories is that the stores without GMO label laws will demand that they DO NOT get Washington branded food. And products that comply with the VT law may not be legal in WA.

    The reality is that the GMO label will be viewed as a marketing disadvantage. There is a lot of negativity in the "Label It" campaign, and the anti-GMO propaganda often includes pictures of cancer laden rats, citations of irresponsible use of herbicides, and stories of illness from ingestion of GM foods. So retailers that are not required to have the labels on their products would ask for unlabeled food. Having 2 or more sets of packaging customized to each state's requirements WILL cost more.

    There is no defined size for the label. The initiative requires the message must be "stated clearly and conspicuously". I'm not sure if you can achieve that on a small item like a candy bar. Certainly some packages would be simple; others would likely need some re-designing. I'm no expert here.

    In Europe there is no special label for each country. All countries have the same requirements. So Spanish Olives sold in France would be properly labeled. There are obviously language differences, and packaging must reflect that, but that problem existed long before GMOs.

    However, when the Olives are exported to the US, they would be required to have the FDA nutrition label. The FDA label does not require the listing of GM ingredients. So when food is imported, the EU rules don't apply. Therefore, you will not get any GMO information on the product.

    In the US we have one nutrition label, so putting the GMO information there would be the best way to go, and would completely eliminate the problem of state's multiple package versions, as well as the imported food issue.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  15. maplesyrup
    Member Profile

    maplesyrup

    "The reason for segregated inventories is that the stores without GMO label laws will demand that they DO NOT get Washington branded food. And products that comply with the VT law may not be legal in WA.

    The reality is that the GMO label will be viewed as a marketing disadvantage. There is a lot of negativity in the "Label It" campaign, and the anti-GMO propaganda often includes pictures of cancer laden rats, citations of irresponsible use of herbicides, and stories of illness from ingestion of GM foods. So retailers that are not required to have the labels on their products would ask for unlabeled food. Having 2 or more sets of packaging customized to each state's requirements WILL cost more."

    I understand that dual inventories will cost more (though not THAT much more- I also know a little about distribution). And in the end any additional costs would be passed along to the consumers. Now if the people in the state vote in favor of 522 knowing that, then there's no problem really. You're right though to point it out- people should be aware of that.

    It's funny, being in the Seattle bubble, I never considered having the labels to be a negative from a consumer standpoint but you're right, it will hurt sales of products that are labeled to have GMO ingredients. Again...not sure that's a bad thing but I can see how some retailers may see it that way.

    Regarding the Spanish olive example, I guess I wasn't clear enough in the question. If the EU has GMO labeling requirements, Spanish olives sold in Spain or France or wherever, the packaging need to comply with the regulations, right? Meaning, they're labeled accordingly on the back. Wouldn't that be sufficient evidence for retailers to place a label on the front saying "GMO" or also to NOT place it there? Is the affidavit really necessary according to the bill as it's written?

    PS: forgive my laziness for not reading through the legislation (yet). :)

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  16. Again, the Olives would NOT have any evidence of labeling once imported to the US. There would be no way to know the GM status of the food. The label used in Europe would NOT be on the packaging, as the FDA label is the one required for import to the US. Check your shelves; you'll see all your imported packaged food does not (usually) have the foreign nutrition label.

    However, even if the food DID have the ingredients listed as having GMOs, it would still be illegal to sell under I-522. The GMO label MUST be on the front of the package in specific language to comply with I-522.

    I-522 REQUIRES an affidavit (or a specific US-based certification). Simply "knowing" something is from an area that has GM laws is not good enough. Here's the part in I-522 that makes the affidavit a requirement:

    "To be included within the exclusion under this subsection, the person supplying a raw agricultural commodity or food must provide a sworn statement that the raw agricultural commodity or food: (i) Has not been knowingly or intentionally produced through genetic engineering; and (ii) has been segregated from, and has not been knowingly or intentionally commingled with, foods that may have been genetically engineered at any time."

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  17. I must add that no discussion about the increased cost of food due to I-522 would be complete without identifying the costs to be imposed on retailers. The act of verifying compliance of food labels, and assuring proper paperwork is available, would hurt many stores. Most grocery stores do not currently have the means to deal with the collection and cross referencing of affidavits, and the purging of items that are not compliant. There are some retailers, however, who do employ methods to verify the GMO content of foods. PCC is the primary sponsor of I-522, and is already working within the model that is proposed in the initiative.

    Trudy Bialic, Public Affairs Director at PCC Natural Markets states, “PCC Natural Markets has used the affidavit system that I-522 would put in place for years. It has not caused any undue burden or cost.”

    Now I find that statement a little misleading. PCC is a very expensive place to shop. If pressed as to why they have higher prices than a conventional grocer, they would proudly state it’s because of the extra effort they put into assuring the sources of the food they sell. Trudy is trying to have it both ways. Other stores that put a premium on traceability of their food sources are also expensive. Whole Foods is often referred to as “Whole Paycheck” for a good reason!

    So, although PCC may not be negatively affected by the implementation of I-522, a store like Thriftway certainly would. Thriftway would have to add quite a few steps to the inventory and stocking procedure to assure compliance with I-522. The costs would absolutely be passed onto their customers.

    PCC is looking for a competitive advantage by forcing their foes to begin doing what they have already mastered. It’s ironic that DBP suggests one follows the money to find I-522 opponents. A money trail will lead to its supporters just as reliably.

    I would suggest that even if you believe the increase in food cost would be small, it’s pretty hard to argue there would be NO increase in cost for most consumers. That, then, begs the question;

    “What are we getting for our money?”

    To me, this is where the discussion begins to get interesting…

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  18. maplesyrup
    Member Profile

    maplesyrup

    You can't pin all of the additional cost of PCC's food on the affidavit system though. The source, production methods, volumes produced, labor costs, and who knows what else make a huge difference too. You can't tell me a store like Safeway doesn't have the legal resources and experience to duplicate what PCC does either.

    And if the people understand this and are willing to pay more for this information, what's the problem?

    Anyway I get that you have issues with the way this is written and I think you may have some points. Thanks for the explanations. Now I have more info. upon which to make a decision.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  19. I'm not saying ALL the cost. But SOME of the cost undoubtedly is because of the amount of book keeping required to fulfill the traceability objectives.

    Safeway may be better off than some due to it's size and available resources. I tend to think smaller retailers would have a tougher time than the big chains when it comes to the cost of compliance.

    Again, I don't know if the price of I-522 would be huge or trivial. I am certain, however, there WOULD be a cost.

    So, with I-522, what are we getting for our money? Anybody??

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  20. What would we get for our money?

    we would get the information that would allow us to make informed choices.

    not having to source it myself for every product i purchase every time i purchase it is why i choose to shop at places like PCC...

    and btw.. why i often purchase foreign products...
    the labeling might not be the same as that sold in the EU.. but the product generally is :)

    they don't generally go to the expense of producing product with GMO ingredients just for the American market ...

    unless of course the product name is licensed to a US based manufacturer... :(

    it's amazing how helpful the information on that label is....

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  21. If you think I-522 will provide enough information to make informed choices, think again. If you read the text of I-522, you'll see the law would not require anywhere near the level of detail you think it would. It would not tell you what is in the food, how much is in there or even if there is a reasonable level of certainty.

    The mandated label, “may be partially produced with genetic engineering” is so utterly ambiguous, that it provides absolutely no assurance to the consumer, and does not present a reasonable basis for choice. This is the phrase that would appear on the vast majority of the packaged products in the typical grocery store.

    GM corn would be absolutely indistinguishable from GM beets, GM wheat, or anything else. You would not be able to tell if there are GMOs actually in the food, or simply that the supplier did not supply an affidavit.

    Imagine a box of frozen "Blackened Salmon Penne, with Marinara". If it had the "May contain.." label, you would have no idea if the salmon, wheat, sweeteners, or tomatoes are GMO. Or even if none of it is.

    Wouldn't listing the ACTUAL ingredients on the label be MUCH better? If not, why not??

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  22. WorldCitizen
    Member Profile

    zgh2676

    VBD:
    Who do you work for? Are you in any way shape or form a paid representative or spokesperson for agribusiness?

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  23. What about the "Organic" label? It could also be perceived as a disadvantage to other non-organic labeled foods. Yet, the market seems to be OK with both labels.

    Why shouldn't we have the right to know what we are eating? Should a diabetic person not have the right to know if a product contains vast amounts of sugar? Should someone with extremely high blood pressure not have the right to know if a product contains excessive salt? Should someone with a peanut allergy that could kill them not have the right to know that a product contains peanuts?

    Eating is one of the most basic functions of all living things and it doesn't seem that much of a stretch to insist that we know what we eat. IMHO, when companies start demanding the right to hide what happens in our food chain, there's something terribly wrong. Are you really telling me that we don't have the right to know what we are ingesting... what we're feeding our children? That a company's cost and advantage in the marketplace trumps our right to be informed citizens about what we eat?

    The bill might not be specific enough, but it would be enough for consumers to put the product down if they were concerned about GMO enough to read labels.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  24. And by the way... I shop all the major markets in W Seattle and don't find PCC to be any more expensive than QFC or Met Market. Some products might be more expensive when QFC or Met are having mega sales, but all in all my food bill is pretty much the same from all those stores.

    If you honestly think PCC is looking for a competitive advantage by sponsoring this bill, it tells me that more people will purchase a non-GMO product, thus the competitive advantage. SOOOO... more people want non-GMO products than those who don't? This is a democracy, right? Who should get the advantage? Those who support the majority thinking or those who want government to maintain the status quo for specific companies who want competitive advantage against the will of the people?

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  25. Oh, and I also shop at Trader Joe's which insists on non-GMO products for their Trader Joe's label and they are very inexpensive.

    http://traderjoes.com/about/customer-updates-responses.asp?i=4

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  26. VBD..

    so your problem isn't with labeling?
    It's that this label doesn't provide enough information?
    that sort of blows your economic consequences argument, doesn't it?

    i agree that more information is better..
    i prefer to buy Oregon Tilth certified organic foods over those simply labeled organic or certified by another agency because i trust the Oregon Tilth standards...

    but i will buy something simply labeled organic over that labeled natural

    and i read ingredient lists.

    and sometimes.. i know the product doesn't meet my standards and i buy it anyway...

    as a consumer.. i make choices..
    and i have a preference towards informed choices.

    this may not be the perfect bill...
    but it appears to me to be a step in the right direction..

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  27. maplesyrup
    Member Profile

    maplesyrup

    VBD has a point in that we should be careful with labels. The "organic" label still has lots of flaws in the system (Google it yourself for more info). Producers will find ways around the regulations.

    But...perfect is the enemy of good. Maybe it's better to have a starting point and be able to refine the rules over time than have nothing at all.

    BTW would you really buy frozen blackened salmon with penne and marinara and really expect it to be 100% natural/organic/GMO free? Blech.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  28. I agree "maplesyrup" regarding perfection and "Blech" as well. :)

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  29. I'll try to address the concerns above, and be as clear as I can.

    Since we've all agreed I-522 has the potential to increase food cost and limit the availability of some food products, I am asking what we are getting for that cost. My view is that what we would get is some very vague information about what MIGHT be in the package.

    In the thread above, there are several references to other information we get on foods, such as sugar, fat, sodium and vitamins. This information may be very important to some, and not some much to others. But regardless of how important it may be, a legitimate effort is made to assure the information is accurate and useful.

    The labels I-522 proposes for processed foods would not be anywhere near as useful, and if the same label type was used for fats, there would be outrage.

    Imagine if instead of having the grams of trans-fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and the ingredients that supply that fat (vegetable oil, lard, etc), there was NO MENTION of fat on the nutrition label, but instead a message on the front of the package stating "May be partially made with fat." REALLY?!!? There MIGHT be some kind of fat in there??

    Why would you be willing to pay a premium for that type of information? NO other food information is that ambiguous. Would any of the following be acceptable:

    "May be Organic"
    "May contain allergens"
    "May be Kosher"
    "May contain vitamins"
    "May contain food coloring"
    "May contain carbohydrates"

    And to top it off, we will need to pay extra for the privilege of knowing the food “may be partially produced with genetic engineering”.

    Listing the GMO information the same way it's done in Europe, and the same way all other nutrition information is listed in our own country would be cheaper, more informative, more consistent, and more universally acceptable.

    I don't see this as a step in the right direction at all. It's clearly a step in the wrong direction that would set a precedent for getting around nutrition disclosure laws by simply saying "there might be something here, but we're not sure what."

    Again I ask, wouldn't listing the ACTUAL ingredients on the label be MUCH better? If not, why not??

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  30. Jiggers
    Member Profile

    Jiggers

    DBP is the expert here.. I want to know what the hell I'm eating. 95% of any store shelf bought product is unhealthy for you. I might as well have a replicator if this is how its gonna be.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  31. I DO NOT agree that I-522 has the potential to increase food costs and limit the availability of some foods. I think that's an argument intended to provoke fear and worry.

    Yes, the European way might be better, but we don't have that kind of proposal in I-522. We DO have an opportunity to begin the process of change - to begin to allow consumers to better know what's genetically engineered and what isn't. Do we say that that since I-522 isn't perfect, we should avoid it and maintain the status quo? Continue forcing consumers to eat what they clearly don't want to eat because there is no method to inform them?

    The Seattle bag law was supposed to drive costs, limit food for poor people, cripple grocers with excessive expense and provide more chances of food poisoning with dirty bags abounding. None of that has happened. I sense the same kind of fear arguments here.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  32. TanDL, what in posts 11 and 17 above do you think is false? I'm basing my conclusions on what I-522 would mandate. I'm curious hear how you think the requirements can be met at zero cost.

    Nobody is forcing consumers to eat anything. Right now there are lots of products that are either USDA Organic, or NonGMO project certified. If you buy those you can be assured that you are not consuming GM food.

    What I-522 is attempting to do is label everything that ISN'T certified GMO free, including food that doesn't actually contain any GMOs, but is simply undocumented. That's why the message is so ambiguous. There is no testing requirement, and if you do not provide the proper documentation, it assumes there ARE GM ingredients in the food. Odd.

    The Seattle bag law does have a cost. Each paper bag costs 5 cents and plastic is no longer available. The benefits for that cost are that the plastic waste generated from Seattle retailers is vastly reduced, and the use of recyclable bags has increased tremendously. To me, that's a substantially positive result at a very minimal price.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  33. VBP..

    i am with TanDL..

    i don't buy the premise that a warning label requirement would drive costs..
    although if it did.. i would gladly pay them

    just like i do now when i choose to purchase a paper grocery bag at the store..

    as for assumptions...
    i don't know about you..

    but when i purchase any product that has corn or corn byproducts or soy or soy byproducts.. unless it is clearly labeled GMO free or is produced in the EU ... i assume it contains GMO product..

    and if i were a wiser woman i would take a closer look at the rest of the products i now assume to be GMO free... because i am likely wrong.

    there is a reason those in the food production industry are spending such big bucks to avoid labeling requirements...

    and it isn't because they want us to be able to make informed choices

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  34. A) Actually, there seems to be some question as to whether or not USDA Organic is really an assurance of non-GMO.

    http://wondergressive.com/2013/04/03/usda-organic-does-not-mean-non-gmo/

    B) And yes, you are correct that it's probably not possible to make this an absolute zero cost issue for adding a couple of words to a label. But, food manufacturers HAVE to label and adding a couple of words to an existing graphic design is not that costly (I've done it for a very marginal cost and all sorts of manufacturers add to labels all the time). If I'm reading the proposal correctly they have until July 2015 to get it done. Are profit margins so thin that they have to pass these minor costs onto consumers and can't absorb anything?

    C) And yes, you are right that the Seattle bag law does have a small cost. But not the back-breaking costs and monumental hardships on retailers that we were told would be the result.

    D) I don't know how Trader Joe's manages to run their affidavit process and keep prices so low, but apparently it can be done.

    E) And it's true... no one forces consumers to eat anything, but if consumers have no idea about what they are eating, then if they eat at all, they are likely to be eating GMO foods. And most of us don't want to do that. So, how do we fix this?

    I-522 is not a perfect proposal. If the food industry (you?) think there's a better way to go than I-522, then start an initiative drive with a better proposal and let the people decide.

    And finally, F) It might be a moot point anyhow if we don't get bee colony collapse under control.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  35. I think it's hilarious that twice it's been implied I work for the food industry. It's also bizarre to me that my objections to I-522 have been portrayed as being anti-label.

    If you read what I've written above, my position has been that labeling MUST provide usable information and that I-522 purposely avoids giving any.

    The initiative is so bad it makes me wonder if Monsanto wrote it....

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  36. Trader Joes keeps their prices low by closely controlling their products with in-house branding. If they sold products from Kellogg, Pepsi, Kraft, General Mills, etc, it would be much harder for them to get the required documentation. They make the contract with the food producer before the food is even packaged, so there is not need for additional steps to confirm compliance. It's a good model, and I love their stuff.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  37. Well there you go. Trader Joe's has a good model. I didn't mean to imply you were from the food industry. I meant that either the food industry or you could start an initiative drive with a better proposal than I-522 and let the people decide on which would work better for them. I apologize for the lack of clarity.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  38. As for the suggestion I look for a better way to do it, I have proposed a way at least 5 times in the thread above. Put the information on the FDA nutrition label.

    The FDA is currently reviewing GMO labeling and disclosure. In fact, they just posted on their Consumer Updates page 2 days ago with a statement about GMO labeling, and has a draft guidance document for GMO disclosure.

    If we keep the pressure there, and demand better access to GM foods by independent researchers, we can pursue this issue with good science and good policy.

    http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  39. waterworld
    Member Profile

    waterworld

    VBD: Thank you for raising some of the very legitimate issues about I-522. I tried to raise some of these issues a while back and mostly just generated a little food fight. I, too, have no connection with the food industry and no financial interest in the issue. The bill has far less to do with accuracy in labeling and providing consumers useful information than it has to do with making sure that people see words on the front of the package to warn them there may be GMO product in there, somewhere.

    My biggest beef with the bill is the first one you raised -- namely putting the entire burden on the retailer. People who claim they love our small local businesses should talk to the owners about how they will cope with this bill. I'm not talking about PCC of course, which is not a small business and won't be affected by this bill. I'm talking about the Husky Deli's of the world, and the import shop down in SODO, those kinds of places. It's a big problem for them, and it will translate into fewer choices for consumers who want to support them.

    But there are about a dozen other problems with the bill, too. I just wanted to thank you for injecting reality into the discussion.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  40. Thanks for the acknowledgement waterworld. I know that anytime I bring up an unpopular perspective, particularly with topic as sensitive as our food supply, I can expect to encounter venom. But the crowd here at WSB is very kind and respectful. I don't mind at all being strongly challenged. I sometimes have to temper my response though, as saying the same thing over and over can become frustrating.

    What's particularly interesting about the I-522 debate is that most of the people I've encountered who are in favor of it have never read it. And those who have read it, generally don't like it very much.

    I think people are supporting it based on what they hope it will do, not what it says it will do. You'll notice that in the press releases and in promotional materials, the Yes on 522 campaign never quotes it's own initiative. Yet the opposition quotes it incessantly. That's telling, I think.

    Most ironic is the catch phrase for the campaign is "you have the right to know", but when presented with how little information one would actually get, the response is almost universally, "it's a start", followed with a statement about how evil Monsanto is (which, by the way, they are).

    It's as though supporters really don't want know about the GM content of their food at all. What they are looking for is a simple way to stigmatize food they probably wouldn't have purchased in the first place. Seems very disingenuous.

    And as you elude to, it really doesn't target Monsanto in the least, but significantly impacts retailers. There is no mention about limiting how food is grown, harvested, prepared, packaged, or distributed. The law only kicks in when the food is offered for retail sale.

    I strongly encourage everybody to simply read the initiative before voting. It really isn't that long or complicated. Section 1 is just a purpose statement, Section 2 is definitions, and Section 3 is the actual proposed law. Section 3 is pretty short, so if you skip through the rest, definitely read all of that part.

    I'd be happy to go through the thing line by line, but fear that could get tedious...

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  41. VBD

    i do want to know about the GM content of my food..

    and if people choose to not purchase products labeled with GMO warnings,
    it would ultimately hurt monsanto because farmers won't buy seed for product they can't sell to manufacturers because no-one is going to produce a product retailers won't buy because they can't sell it to their customers.

    if that is what happens.. i would cheer

    but being a cynic i have a hard time believing labeling will make that large an impact on sales

    every pack of cigarettes carries a warning that the product will likely kill you .. yet people still smoke.

    i too would like to see science weigh in on this subject... but to be perfectly honest i am not willing to take my chances while they do their due dilegence... their answers are likely to arrive long after i am gone if they arrive at all...

    in the meantime.. i want the opportunity to decide for myself whether or not i am willing to partake in the great American science experiment...

    and in my heart of hearts i want America to pay attention to those warnings and put GMO products back on the shelf where they can go on sale for those people who will eat anything as long as it is cheap enough..

    because.. that would be good for small farmers..
    and i am willing to do all i can for people who take the time and care to produce real food.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  42. Talaki34
    Member Profile

    Talaki34

    VBD/waterworld

    I thought you might enjoy reading this.
    http://www.biofortified.org/2013/02/analysis-of-washington-state-gmo-labeling-initiative-i-522/

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  43. WorldCitizen
    Member Profile

    zgh2676

    VBD: You said:

    "I think it's hilarious that twice it's been implied I work for the food industry."

    I didn't imply this at all. I just asked a simple question which you deftly avoided answering. My question:

    "Who do you work for? Are you in any way shape or form a paid representative or spokesperson for agribusiness?"

    It's a simple question, which would add weight to your posts if answered truthfully and simply. I would add another part to the question. Do you hold amy significant stake in a company which would potentially lose money if I-522 passed?

    I don't have any skin in the game. It's only fair to ask if you don't either.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  44. Nope. I don't work for any food companies or any company affiliated with food, genetics, agriculture, or retail. I'm a politically liberal West Seattle resident with a degree in Physics from the University of Washington, and am employed as a Health Physicist at a local applied physics laboratory. We do space environment testing, among other things.

    I don't know why any of that is relevant, but there you are.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  45. JoB, I appreciate your passionate response. I find it particularly interesting, however, that you refer to the proposed GM label as a "GMO warning".

    The promoters of I-522 are very careful to avoid referring to the label as a warning. The standard message is that it would be a tool for consumers to make informed choices, in the same way someone might make a decision about vitamins, fat, protein or calories. You certainly wouldn't refer to the fiber content on the nutrition label as a "fiber warning". Or suggest the food has a "Vitamin C warning". This is precisely what I meant when I said the motives for the label were disingenuous.

    If you want a warning, then openly ask for one. Isn't the point of this campaign to promote honest disclosure? Anyone opposed to I-522 is harshly condemned for even suggesting the objective is to stigmatize GM foods. "It's about the right to know!!"

    I think the correct way to address the public demand for information on the GM content of food is to provide concise accurate information, not by utilizing fear tactics.

    Your contention that Monsanto will suffer if GM food sales drop to the point where they lose market share is precisely what I was referring to when I suggested that people support I-522 based on what they hope it would do, not what it says it will do.

    If you want to go after Monsanto, then go DIRECTLY after them. Lobby to outlaw Roundup ready crops, or Bt modified crops. Why use retailers as an expendable pawn in your fight against big agribusiness?

    I think it's important to list the ingredients so we can decide what GM food sources are acceptable to us. Not all GM food is equal. Some is far more concerning than others.

    I'm curious as to what people think of this article:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2012/11/07/prop-37-fails-scientists-cheer/

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  46. Thank you for your posts on this, VBD. I hadn't read up on any of this before today. I DO want to know about GMO ingredients in the foods I eat...but knowing the details of I-522, I won't be voting for it. Hopefully someone else will propose a labeling initiative I can get behind.

    (And no, I don't work in the food industry either.)

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  47. VBD

    to me the label would be a warning..
    when i am driving down the road i appreciate those little warning signs that tell me i might be about to encounter wild animals or rocks falling on the road or ....
    they don't cause me to stop in my tracks and pursue a different route.. but they do alert me that i might be heading into a danger zone.

    Right now.. there is no labeling of any kind that would indicate that i might be consuming something i might want to research more or avoid altogether..

    i will say that you are doing a great job of promoting the great Seattle curse of doom for legislation...

    it isn't perfect so i won't vote for it...

    next time you venture onto the freeways to go from West Seattle to the other side of the downtown core.. you might ask yourself if using a little common sense and doing something even if it's not perfect might not have been a better approach.

    just saying

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  48. I am not opposed to warnings at all. The message on a pack of cigarettes is acknowledged to be a warning. Supporters of that message will tell you it's intent is to stigmatize cigarettes so people will reduce their consumption. It's all open and honest. I support that label, as it is based on good science.

    Warning signs on the road are acceptable, since there is VERY good scientific evidence that hitting a deer at highway speeds is dangerous.

    Warnings are appropriate when the hazard has been identified and quantified.

    And for the level of perfection, I would lower your standard a bit. No law is perfect. This issue needs to be assessed based on what it will do, not how good it makes us feel.

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  49. WorldCitizen
    Member Profile

    zgh2676

    VBD:

    Thanks for answering my question. There's lots of info coming from well funded places trying to sway opinion. It's just nice to know when speaking with someone weather or not they have ulterior motives.

    At any rate, I'm pretty swayed by your reasoning. I feel there's no room for any more poorly written laws. My only hesitation is the likelihood of backers of "No on 522" using it's defeat to sway public opinion of any future initiative. You know, statements like, "The people have already spoken, and they realize GMO products are good, and the future, and blah, blah, blah..."

    Now, I tend to side with scientific consensus with regard to things like public health, and it seems like it's there with regard to GMOs not being harmful. I also, support the public's right to know what they are putting in their bodies, regardless of what science tells us. I think that's a pretty reasonable request.

    Now, if the crowd wanting GMO information on a label is it reasonable to have it in such a a way that is consistant with some dairy farmers' packaging concerning rBst? For example: “No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows.”

    This seems to get at the problem in a very open and at least reasonably neutral way. The market decided and the rBst hormone is (as of 2010) only in less than 40% of the milk in the US....probably less now.

    In your opinion, was this also unjust labeling?

    Posted 1 year ago #         
  50. WorldCitizen

    remember when the scientific consensus was that smoking was not hazardous to your health?
    i do.

    VBD

    i may not be up to a lengthy scientific discussion with footnotes at the moment...

    but you err in dismissing my argument by saying
    "This issue needs to be assessed based on what it will do, not how good it makes us feel."

    this bill although not perfect will give people a head's up that they may be consuming something they would prefer not to eat...
    and it will encourage those who produce GMO free products to label them clearly.

    i will admit that i will feel good about that..

    but not that a common sense argument is the conversational equivalent of touchie feelie

    Posted 1 year ago #         

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