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Genetically-modified food initiative certified, Day of Action planned by proponents | Politics

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Genetically-modified food initiative certified, Day of Action planned by proponents
Politics
Genetically-modified food initiative certified, Day of Action planned by proponents

 

Although turnout should be quite low, political action groups around Washington state are gearing up for a fight surrounding a food-labeling initiative slated to be on November's ballot.

Initiative 522, also known as “The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act”, “would require most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, seeds and seed stocks, if produced using genetic engineering as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale,” according to a news release from Brian Zylstra, spokesman for secretary of state office.

I-522 turned in 353,153 signatures with an error rate of 17.02 percent, which is “slightly less than the historic average.”

Now that the initiative has been certified and will be on the ballot, its campaign is organizing events to bring awareness to the community. Michelle Kim, field organizer for Food & Water Watch Spokane is inviting everyone to come to a Day of Action outside of Main Market Co-op (44 W. Main Ave.) to learn more about the initiative.

“There's a lot of hope and optimism surrounding our campaign right now,” Kim said. “Just the fact we could get so many signatures from concerned citizens and that people are already turning up for local meetings, I think there is so much potential and opportunity. The Spokane community is really rallying around this, and I think people are pretty hopeful.”

Kim is not allowing herself to be discouraged by the failure of a similar initiative in California during the 2012 election cycle. She is aware that big-monied interests are most likely going to be her opposition, but stresses that this version has tighter language that is less susceptible to “scare tactics.”

“The vast amount of money they spent in California was staggering,” she said. “We're getting an early start here, working statewide to make sure we do extensive community outreach and education about this important issue.”

Northwest Food Processors Association released a press release Jan. 4 in opposition to the Washington initiative.

“This initiative, although well-meaning, hurts the small and medium sized food processors in our state,” Dave Zepponi, president of the Northwest Food Processors Association, is quoted as saying in the release. “The cost of compliance will be felt by consumers and will disproportionately impact small- to medium-sized businesses in our region, putting local jobs at risk.”

Most of the opposition's argument will center around the fact that a lot of added regulation will be necessary to implement the act, which will be unfair to business owners and food producers.

The Day of Action will feature a photo petition area from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when citizens can voice their concerns about GMOs in food.

The opposition will become more solidified as November approaches.

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