Press Release

November 6, 2013

NO on 522 Coalition

Washington voters soundly reject I-522

Vote defeats misleading food labeling proposal in Washington state

SEATTLE – The No on 522 campaign claimed victory tonight as Washington voters soundly rejected Initiative 522, the badly written and costly food labeling initiative on the November statewide ballot.

I-522 was brought to the Washington state ballot this year by anti-GMO activists as part of a self-proclaimed national agenda to ban foods derived from genetically engineered crops.  The initiative was opposed by a broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, consumers and businesses from across the state.

With almost one million votes counted, at least one media outlet has announced that Initiative 522 has been defeated. At the time of that announcement the vote was 55% favoring NO.   

“This is a clear victory for Washington consumers, taxpayers and family farmers across our state,” said Dana Bieber, spokesperson for No on 522, in a statement Tuesday evening. “Washington voters have soundly rejected this badly written and deceptive initiative.”

I-522 would have provided consumers with inaccurate and misleading information about the foods they buy, while increasing grocery costs to working families by hundreds of dollars per year. And it would have burdened family farmers with costly new regulations and red tape, and exposed them to shake-down, bounty hunter law suits

 “With Washington voters, it always comes down to the facts.  And the facts showed that I-522 was a badly written initiative that deserved to be rejected,” said Bieber.

The No on I-522 campaign extends its sincere thank you to the efforts and support of thousands of its coalition members from across our state who spoke out against I-522 as part of our campaign.

More information about I-522 can be found

Continue Reading


November 1, 2013


Margaret McCormick, Ph.D.

Food labeling: Meaningless information serves no one

Guest Opinion: Initiative 522 will hurt Washingtonians, not help them.

In just a few days, Washington voters will decide on Initiative 522, a badly written food labeling measure on our statewide ballot that would give consumers inaccurate and misleading information about food products sold in our state. I-522 deserves a strong NO vote.

Food labels should be accurate and reliable, and provide meaningful information to consumers. I-522 fails on all counts.

As a mother, I care about the foods I feed my family. As a scientist, I also care about fact-based, accurate information. I know that foods with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients are safe and no different from other foods we buy — and that I-522 is a blatant attempt to try to convince consumers otherwise, against all legitimate scientific evidence.

The truth is that GE crops are safer for the environment and hold great promise for meeting the challenges of feeding a growing world population. Advances in agricultural biotechnology — such as the development of “Golden rice” provitamin A-enriched — also offer important health and nutritional benefits, especially for vulnerable populations around the world.

Passing I-522 would send a strong anti-science signal from our state that voters here are seeking to stigmatize and stifle these important advances.

But the most important issue facing Washington voters regarding I-522 is whether we will saddle our state with badly written regulations that will mandate inaccurate and even false information on food labels, while increasing grocery costs for Washington families.

I-522 is so poorly written that it would require thousands of food products to be labeled as “genetically engineered,” even if they’re not. Foods containing ingredients such as sugars that may have been derived from GE crops would require a warning label, even though there is no GE content in the food at all. At the same time, I-522 would exempt thousands of other foods — such as cheese, milk and meat — even when they contain or are made with GE products. It’s simply a bad labeling proposal.

And like all bad public policies, I-522 comes with tremendous costs. The Washington State Academy of Sciences concluded that I-522’s compliance requirements would increase costs for farmers and food producers seeking to sell products in Washington and that these costs would be passed on to consumers. According to an economic study by the Washington Research Council, I-522 would increase grocery costs for Washington families by hundreds of dollars per year.

All for a bad labeling policy that makes no sense and is not based in any sound science.

Consumers already have reliable options for choosing foods made without GE ingredients, if that’s what they prefer. They can select from thousands of products already labeled “organic” or “non-GMO.” I-522 conflicts with these already-existing labeling standards and would hinder consumer information — not increase it.

Finally, contrary to proponents’ claims, the regulations mandated by I-522 are unlike any other labeling regulations in the world. I-522 demands a zero threshold for any presence of GE ingredients, which is scientifically impossible to document. Unlike labeling regulations in other countries — however ill-conceived — I-522 also demands generalized front-of-package “warning” labels, rather than providing information about any specific ingredients. And, finally, no other country applies these types of labeling regulations to just one single state or province.

Continue Reading


October 31, 2013

The Tacoma News

The Tacoma News Tribune Editorial Board

I-522’s labels are anything but neutral information

It’s obvious from the text of Initiative 522 that the measure is an attempt by the organic food industry to stigmatize the competition. There’s no other reason to single out genetically modified foods as uniquely requiring what amounts to a warning label on the front of the box. The initiative talks darkly of “potential health effects,” “adverse health or environmental consequences” and “levels of known intoxicants.” Ignore the alarming language, many supporters now tell us — I-522 isn’t about science; it’s merely about informing consumers. But science and information aren’t so neatly separated. Consumers can be misled even by true labels when the labels don’t tell the whole story. Put the shoe on the other foot. Imagine this advisory on organic foods: Organic products have been linked to thousands of cases of food poisoning from fecal matter and salmonella. Dozens have died after eating contaminated crops grown on organic farms. That happens to be true. In a single case, a 2011 outbreak of E. coli poisoning sickened 3,100 Europeans and killed 53. Public health investigators traced the bacteria to sprouts from an organic farm in Germany. Americans have been sickened by contaminated organic food, too, though not so catastrophically. Lest the anti-522 campaign excerpt those three paragraphs for its own scary ads, let’s add an all-important caveat: There are no risk-free sources of food. Organic foods don’t appear to be any more dangerous than the rest of the items in the grocery aisles. So a fright label on organics might be literally true yet also profoundly misleading. By I-522’s own logic, though, you could argue that it’s only about informing the shoppers. Just like a claim that organic foods are disease-ridden, I-522’s labels would deliberately leave out key facts about genetically modified crops. The technology is hardly sinister. Biologists typically introduce a single gene into a plant whose genome contains tens of thousands. The technique is newfangled but no more unnatural than traditional hybridization. “Trans-species” DNA transfers occur haphazardly in nature through viruses and bacteria. Biotech scientists precisely target the genes and rigorously test the results. Specific uses of the science — the creation of “Roundup ready” plants, for example — are fair game for intelligent criticism. But the fright campaign against the entire technology smacks of a superstitious witch hunt. Edibles from genetically modified plants have been scrutinized by scientists in Europe as well as America (not just by Monsanto shills, as zealots claim). GM foods have gotten a clean bill of health from the scientific academies of Germany, France and Great Britain, as well as from U.S. health authorities. I-522 is about a contrived GM panic, not innocent truth-in-packaging. Real information isn’t a purportedly neutral label attached to vague insinuations of peril. The public deserves the whole truth about biotechnology — and spooky innuendo doesn’t tell it.

Continue Reading


October 31, 2013

The Lynden Tribune

The Lynden Tribune Editorial Board

I-522 not worth its extra costs, burden

While plenty of arguments swirl around Initiative 522, requiring labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food products, the stance of most farmers on the ballot measure should not be in doubt. They’re opposed.

We should consider what organizations like the Farm Bureau and many commodity commissions are saying.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed the use of GMOs in food production for many years now. The agency looked at the concerns raised and found them wanting. …

Continue Reading


October 31, 2013

The Sammamish Review

The Sammamish Review Editorial Board

No on Initiative 522

… There are numerous studies saying that [Initiative 522], which would label food containing genetically modified ingredients, would end up costing people more at the grocery store.

In exchange, what would consumers get? A couple extra words of fine print buried under the nutritional information with few consumers paying heed. …

GMO labeling would add words few will read and fewer still will be mindful of the meaning. But everyone sees their food bill go up. Vote no.

Continue Reading


October 30, 2013

The Longview Daily News

The Longview Daily News Editorial Board

Costly GMO labeling unneeded

The I-522 campaign is more or less a replay of a similar battle fought last year in California, where it did business as Proposition 37. What’s at issue is summed up fairly well in this paragraph from the Washington State Voter’s Guide:

“This measure would require foods produced entirely or partly with genetic engineering, as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale in Washington, beginning in July 2015. The labeling requirement would apply generally to raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stock, with some exceptions, but would not require that specific genetically-engineered ingredients be identified. The measure would authorize state enforcement and civil penalties, and allow private enforcement actions.” …

Continue Reading


October 27, 2013

The Lewiston Tribune

Marty Trillhaase

Its air leaking, I-522′s balloon is going flat

If you’re asking Washington voters to label food products containing genetically modified organisms, you ought to offer something more compelling than simply saying it’s the right thing to do.

The burden of proof is on the groups supporting Washington’s Initiative 522. It’s their case to make.

Where is it?

Continue Reading


October 27, 2013

The Oregonian

The Oregonian Editorial Board

Looming GMO-label fight calls for leadership

Activists in Washington are testing the proposition that selling the public on a bad idea is merely a matter of repetition. Oregonians rejected a labeling requirement for foods containing genetically engineered ingredients in 2002, and Californians bounced a similar proposal last year. Yet the label-it movement keeps plugging away, and if voters north of the Columbia River decline to adopt the nation’s first general labeling mandate next month their Beaver State counterparts are likely to get another chance in 2014. …

There will be plenty of time before November 2014 to look at the [Oregon] proposal more closely, but its flaws will largely echo those of its Washington cousin, which the pro-business Washington Research Council eviscerated in a September report. Support for that initiative has plummeted in recent weeks, as a well-funded opposition campaign has explained what the thing actually does. …

Continue Reading


October 25, 2013

The Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter (also ran in Bellevue Reporter)

Craig Groshart

State, county, local measures have impacts

I-522: Genetically engineered foods


Both the state and federal government are charged with keeping our food safe. I-522 would go beyond this by forcing our state to impose labeling requirements on genetically engineered foods.

Proponents say the public has a right to know what foods have been genetically modified. The problem? Not all genetically engineered foods would have to have the label. …

I-522 would mandate new labels for thousands of products while at the same time allowing thousands of other GMO foods to remain unlabeled. Supermarkets would be required to have GMO labels on food, but not restaurants. Food from foreign countries also would be exempt.

So much for safety.

University scientists, former heads of the state Department of Agriculture, president of the Washington Farm Bureau and many others oppose this initiative.

Many initiatives written by the public are poorly drafted and ineffective. That’s the problem with I-522.

Continue Reading


October 25, 2013

The Vancouver Business Journal

Heidi P. Schulz

I-522: Costly and misleading

Initiative 522 on the November ballot would increase food costs in our state and provide consumers with unreliable and inaccurate labeling information. It’s a misleading measure that fails to deliver on its fundamental promise to help consumers make more informed choices.

Corwin Beverage, our employees, and our customers will be caught in I-522’s web of misleading requirements and higher costs. We’re a family-owned, local company firmly-rooted in Southwest Washington. We started in 1941 with one truck and three employees. Today we have more than 100 trucks, more than 100 employees and we sell more than 400 beverage and snack food items in a very competitive industry.

We are among thousands of other Washington food companies and farmers that would be saddled with the costly and burdensome new requirements of I-522. This would make our products more expensive – without providing any health or safety benefit to consumers.

For example, the products we distribute to grocery stores and the products we deliver to restaurants would be labeled differently under the terms of I-522, even if they are the exact same product. The difference would occur solely because I-522’s food labeling requirements includes food and beverage products sold in grocery stores but exempts foods and beverages sold in restaurants.

If Initiative 522 passes, food producers would be required to place a misleading label on products made with “genetically engineered” ingredients in order to sell them here in Washington – unless these products are specially remade with higher priced ingredients just to be sold in our state. Science and medicine agree that GE foods, grown by farmers for decades, are just as safe and healthy as non-GE foods. Remaking food products with more expensive, specially handled non-GE ingredients just to be able to sell them in Washington without a misleading label is a business decision that is tough to swallow.

In turn, the added costs, documentation and special handling I-522 would require would put our company and many other food manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage with those in other states. As a business operating in a border community, this competitive disadvantage becomes even more complex and carries an even heavier burden.

Most importantly, I-522 will not provide consumers with accurate or reliable food labels. That’s because the measure is so poorly written that it would require thousands of food products to be labeled as “genetically engineered,” even though they may not be. In addition, two-thirds of the foods we buy in Washington would be exempt from labeling under I-522, even if these foods do contain GE content or are made with GE ingredients. Adding to the confusion, I-522 requires fruits, vegetables and grain-based products to be labeled, but exempts meat and dairy products like milk, meat, chicken, eggs and cheese – even when these food products come from animals fed GE grain. Fruit juice would require labels, but alcoholic beverages made with the same GE ingredients would be exempt.

Consumers can already make more informed choices under our existing labeling system, which is better and more reliable than the regulations proposed by I-522. Consumers can choose certified organic food, or select from thousands of foods that are already voluntarily labeled as “non-GMO.”

Integrity is one of the values we have built our business on, so the safety of our customers, accuracy in food labeling and supplying consumers with reliable information is paramount to us. I-522 will provide consumers misleading information and end up costing us all. Please look into the facts about I-522 and join me in voting NO.

Continue Reading


October 24, 2013

The Leavenworth Echo (also ran in the Cashmere Valley Record)

Bill Forshan, Publisher

Here we go again

…The principle arguments in support of I-522 are based on excessive fear and hatred of chemicals, chemical companies, and anything else that smacks of progress. The truth is that GMO’s have been around for decades.

Over those decades various techniques have been employed to modify crops in order to improve yields, decrease use of pesticides, increase the supply of food, and make crops that are more resistant to disease. …

For centuries farmers have crossbred various plants and animals to produce desired traits. Selective breeding over time has created wide variations in plants and animals, but the process relied on nature to produce the variations. Modern advances in science have allowed scientists to target specific genes in order to make the process of plant hybridization more precise. …

I-522 is just the latest in the crusade by radical environmentalists to stifle human progress by describing genetically modified food as harmful to the environment.

We have all been consuming GMO’s for decades … Our food supply is safer than at any time in history. …

Supporters of I-522 say it is just a label and it won’t cost you anything.

Ultimately, regulation always costs the consumer more. Producers will be required to keep more records and file more reports with regulators. Regulators? Yes, there will need to be more regulators to insure that the law is enforced. …

I-522 is bad law and actually harmful to true progress in feeding a hungry world. It will increase the cost of food and do nothing to improve the safety of our food supply.

Vote No on I-522.

Continue Reading

News Article

October 23, 2013

KING 5 News

John Langeler

WSU researchers say labeling GMOs is ‘useless’

PULLMAN, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University’s Agricultural Research Center call an initiative to label genetically modified foods “useless information,” citing a lack of clarity and supporting research.

“The information that is on a product should be information that is useful to people,” commented the center’s Associate Director Michael Kahn. “You can’t put everything on there.” …

“To put on a label that says ‘may contain GMO’, does not tell people what type of GMO may be in there,” [Assistant Professor Michael Neff] explained.

GMOs are mainly found in seven crops.  The main crop is corn, but cotton, soybean and alfalfa are the top three genetically modified farm products.  Modified can mean parts of a seed are removed or altered in a laboratory with a variety of other genes.

Kahn and Neff said little of what is grown in Washington is GMO, adding that the state “grows a lot of small crops.”

“There’s no scientific evidence, credible or reproducible, that eating a GMO plant is bad or unhealthy for you to eat,” Neff said.

Continue Reading

Press Release

October 23, 2013

NO on 522 Coalition

Five more editorial boards say NO on I-522

Washington’s leading newspapers overwhelmingly recommend NO on I-522

SEATTLE – Calling Initiative 522 an “overreach,” saying it provides “no help to consumers,” and that it would “cost lots of money — and every penny would be wasted,” five more editorial boards have evaluated I-522 and come to the conclusion it should be rejected.
The Olympian, Spokane Spokesman-Review, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Everett Daily Herald and Capital Press are the latest newspaper editorial boards to come out against I-522 and have joined The Seattle Times, The (Tacoma) News Tribune, Tri-City Herald, The Columbian, Yakima Herald-Republic, Longview Daily News, The Wenatchee World, and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in urging their readers to VOTE NO on I-522.  

I-522, the GE food labeling measure, is a costly and misleading measure that fails on its basic promise to provide consumers with reliable or accurate information. That’s why hundreds of scientists, physicians, businesses and all of Washington’s major agriculture groups and food producers oppose I-522. Excerpts from the three new editorials are below. For a complete list of editorials urging NO on 522, visit:   
The Olympian Editorial, I-522 hides real agenda about GMO foods
October 22, 2013

  • “The initiative would confuse rather than inform, so voters should reject this poorly worded and deceptive initiative.”
  • “Most of Washington’s nonorganic farmers oppose I-522. For one reason, the initiative would encourage so-called bounty hunter lawsuits. If a negligible amount of GMO were found in an unlabeled food, any person could launch a lawsuit against the farmer and anyone in the processing chain, including small business people who put it on their shelves.”
  • “…I-522 is not helpful. It ultimately fails for purporting to be something it is not. The initiative cloaks a larger political agenda by appealing to our ‘right to know.’”

Spokesman-Review Editorial, I-522 no help to consumers or producers
October 22, 2013
  • “Exemptions for everything from dairy and beef products to restaurant foods render much of I-522 meaningless to consumers.”
  • “In fact, the foods that might be required to carry a label may have no genetically engineered components at all.”
  • “But Washington products will be at a disadvantage if labeled with the scarlet “GE” when farm producers in no other state have the same responsibility.”
  • “…very bad law-making. Labeling is already out there for consumers who want it and for producers who want to sell to them.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial,
I-522 is aimed at problem that doesn’t exist
October 18, 2013
  • “Having individual states with specific labeling rules is costly for businesses and customers.”
  • “I-522 is poorly crafted. It puts demands on some products and not others.”
  • “I -522 is an overreach. We urge a ‘no’ vote.”

Capital Press Editorial
, GMO labels would waste consumers’ money
October 18, 2013
  •  I-522 “…would cost lots of money — and every penny would be wasted.”
  • “But we believe labels aren’t the ultimate intent of anti-GMO activists. They want all genetically modified food off the shelves of supermarkets, not just in Washington state but everywhere.”
  • “Any consumer can walk into any grocery store in Washington State— or any other state, for that matter — and buy food labeled organic or GMO-free. For consumers and taxpayers who are on a budget — who isn’t? — the cost of additional labels on their food is a huge issue. Any mother or father with a limited income needs to be assured that the food they buy is fairly priced and without additional costly features such as extra GMO labels.”

Everett Daily Herald Editorial
, A reluctant no on I-522
October 16, 2013
  •  …“labeling needs to be done the right way, and I-522 falls short.”

More information about I-522 can be found at


Continue Reading


October 22, 2013

The Olympian

The Olympian Editorial Board

I-522 hides real agenda about GMO foods

The promoters of Initiative 522 say they just want to give consumers more useful information about what’s in our food. They fail miserably on that claim by creating a selective labeling system for foods containing a [discernible] trace of genetically altered nutrients.

The initiative would confuse rather than inform, so voters should reject this poorly worded and deceptive initiative.

The writers of the initiative say consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. No disagreement on that point. But I-522 doesn’t provide the means for conveying reliable information.

Some foods with no genetically modified organisms would require a label, while other foods that do contain GMOs would not. The exemptions in this initiative would make no sense to consumers.

For example, the sucrose found in beet sugar and cane sugar are chemically identical. But the initiative would require labels on packages of sugar made from genetically altered sugar beets, not from cane sugar. Cheese gets an exemption whether or not it contains altered enzymes.

It’s obvious this initiative is designed for some purpose other than providing consumers with helpful information.

Hundreds of independent scientific studies have concluded that foods containing genetically modified organisms do not differ from non-GMO foods in safety, and are substantially equivalent to non-GMO foods in nutritional value.

That’s also the conclusion of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. It was asked by the state Legislature to analyze the issues raised by I-522.

Where the vast body of current scientific knowledge differs, however, is whether growing genetically modified crops poses any long-term threat to agricultural soils, wildlife or other plants. There’s no conclusive evidence on that point, but it is a worrisome possibility.

Unfortunately, I-522 doesn’t address this issue openly, or honestly.

Instead, it would splash a warning label on the front of food packages to suggest consumers have something to fear, when the real intent is to deter genetic engineering in agriculture by making the use of GMOs more complicated and expensive. Confusing consumers is a strategy toward that goal.

Most of Washington’s nonorganic farmers oppose I-522. For one reason, the initiative would encourage so-called bounty hunter lawsuits. If a negligible amount of GMO were found in an unlabeled food, any person could launch a lawsuit against the farmer and anyone in the processing chain, including small business people who put it on their shelves.

Supporters of the initiative point to the labeling requirements of the European Union. But the EU requires a GMO notation on the side or back of the product where other nutritional information is printed. …

In that regard, I-522 is not helpful. It ultimately fails for purporting to be something it is not. The initiative cloaks a larger political agenda by appealing to our “right to know.”

Many defects plague this initiative, but that’s reason enough to vote no on I-522.

Continue Reading


October 22, 2013

The Spokesman-Review

The Spokesman-Review Editorial Board

I-522 no help to consumers or producers

Supporters of Initiative 522 say it’s all about transparency, and we agree.

You can see right through it.

If I-522 was just about labeling genetically engineered foods, then it would be about foods and labeling. It is not.

In fact, the foods that might be required to carry a label may have no genetically engineered components at all. The initiative targets the production of the food, and the genetically engineered plants that give us, for example, virtually any product produced using corn or soy.

About 90 percent of all corn grown in the United States is resistant to Roundup, the herbicide used to kill weeds. Many soft drinks use a sweetener refined from corn.

Is the genetic modification used to immunize corn against Roundup in the sweetener? No. But Coke, say, would have to be labeled anyway.

Exemptions for everything from dairy and beef products to restaurant foods render much of I-522 meaningless to consumers.

And, despite statements to the contrary in the initiative, there is no finding by any major scientific organization that foods with genetically engineered ingredients are unsafe. So, it’s not about the food.

Labeling is a legitimate requirement, whatever your concerns about the health effects of eating certain foods. The ingredient and nutritional labels on the side or back of food containers conveys a lot of helpful information to consumers. …

But I-522 requires labels on the front of packages in Washington, as if information about genetically engineered foods was singularly important. It is not. …

Washington’s organic farming industry is thriving. At farm-gate sales of $280 million, it ranks second only to California’s. But Washington products will be at a disadvantage if labeled with the scarlet “GE” when farm producers in no other state have the same responsibility.

Many foreign markets reject genetically engineered commodities, but exporters like Washington’s wheat growers have complied without need for labels. It’s worth noting many of those nations do not have the zero tolerance I-522 would have in place by 2019.

As is so often the case with initiatives, I-522 is a potentially good idea wrapped in very bad law-making. Labeling is already out there for consumers who want it and for producers who want to sell to them.

It’s too early to stigmatize a new science like genetic engineering before we understand all its positives and negatives.

Continue Reading


October 22, 2013

The Wall Street Journal

Marc van Montagu

The irrational fear of GM food

From the Wall Street Journal:

… Society, the economy and the environment have benefited enormously from GM crops. India has flipped from cotton importer to exporter because of insect-resistant cotton. Herbicide-tolerant GM crops have stimulated no-tillage farming, reducing soil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions. Insect-resistant GM crops have cut insecticide sprayings by more than 25%—and as much as sevenfold in some parts of India. In developing countries, GM crops have helped ensure food security and bolster incomes for farmers, allowing parents to focus more resources on other priorities, such as educating their children.

Such remarkable achievements are only the beginning. Dozens of better GM crops are in the pipeline from companies, universities and public agencies around the world. …

These crops will continue to reduce hunger by bringing more bountiful and nutritious harvests. They will also help the environment by mitigating the impact of agriculture by conserving our precious, finite supply of fresh water; freeing up land for other uses, like carbon-absorbing forests; preserving topsoil; and reducing the use of insecticides and herbicides, thereby enhancing biodiversity.

These advancements are particularly timely given the environmental and demographic state of the 21st century. Between now and 2050, global population will rise by about one-third, to 9.6 billion from 7.2 billion, reducing arable land per capita. …

The question of how to nourish two billion more people in a changing climate will prove one of the greatest challenges in human history. To meet it, we should embrace an agricultural approach that combines the best features of traditional farming with the latest technology.

Biotechnology offers an unparalleled safety record and demonstrated commercial success. Remarkably, however, biotechnology might not reach its full potential. In part, that’s because outspoken opponents of GM crops in the U.S. have spearheaded a “labeling” movement that would distinguish modified food from other food on grocery store shelves. …

Opponents of GM crops have been extremely effective at spreading misinformation. GM crops don’t, as one discredited study claimed recently, cause cancer or other diseases. GM cotton isn’t responsible for suicides among Indian farmers—a 2008 study by an alliance of 64 governments and nongovernmental organizations debunked that myth completely. And GM crops don’t harm bees or monarch butterflies.

In fact, people have consumed billions of meals containing GM foods in the 17 years since they were first commercialized, and not one problem has been documented. This comes as no surprise. Every respected scientific organization that has studied GM crops—the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization, among others—has found GM crops both safe for humans and positive for the environment.

As a plant scientist, neither I nor my fellow 2013 World Food Prize laureates, Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton and Dr. Robert T. Fraley, anticipated the resistance to genetic modification and biotechnology. After all, nearly everything humans have eaten though the millennia has been genetically altered by human intervention. Mankind has been breeding crops—and thereby genetically altering them—since the dawn of agriculture. Today’s techniques for modifying plants are simply new, high-precision methods for doing the same.

Resistance to biotechnology seems all the more unbelievable considering that much of it comes from the same thoughtful people who tend to dismiss climate-change skeptics as “anti-science.” …

Anyone who cares about alleviating hunger and protecting the environment should work quickly to remove the bias against GM crops. A good first step is for educated, scientifically literate people to avoid being taken in by the myths about genetically modified food. These innovations have too much potential to empower individuals and feed the world to be thwarted by falsehoods and fear-mongering.

Dr. Van Montagu is founder and chairman of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University in Belgium. He is the co-recipient of the 2013 World Food Prize, along with Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton of Syngenta Biotechnology and Dr. Robert T. Fraley of Monsanto.

Continue Reading

Seattle – In announcing its 3rd quarter earnings results on Thursday, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc said their ingredients costs had increased as a result of the company switching to non-GMO ingredients.  Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said on a conference call that, as a result, the company would be increasing the retail costs they charge consumers by 3%-5%.

From the Chipotle earnings news release:

“Higher ingredient costs were driven by increased produce prices for tomatoes, corn and tomatillos in our salsas as well as higher costs for dairy and chicken, and finally, more expensive oils as we began converting from GMO soy oil to non-GMO sunflower and rice bran oils.”

From a Business Insider article:

“The price increase will be between 3% and 5%, CEO Steve Ells said on the company’s conference call yesterday. Ells said that the company is going to start charging more as it eliminates Genetically Modified Organisms from its ingredients.”

An economic study conducted by the Washington Research Council found that Initiative 522 would increase grocery costs for the average Washington family by $450 per year, due largely to the increased costs of switching to higher priced non-GMO ingredients.

For more information about I-522 visit


Continue Reading


October 18, 2013

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial Board

I-522 is aimed at problem that doesn’t exist

I-522 mandates GMO food products be labeled. There’s no need. If consumers are concerned, businesses would label products to boost sales.

Yes, genetically modified food is controversial. …

But those who have concerns can have them addressed without mandated GMO labeling, which is what Initiative 522 requires

I-522 should be rejected.

That’s not to say it’s a bad idea to label GMO products. However, the need to label GMO products should be driven by the marketplace — a desire to attract customers to the product being sold. …

Continue Reading


October 18, 2013

Capital Press

Capital Press Editorial Board

GMO labels would waste consumers’ money

A Washington state initiative that would require a special label on some food that has genetically modified ingredients would cost lots of money — and every penny would be wasted.

Slapping GMO labels on some of the food Washington state residents eat, as would be required under Washington state Initiative 522, will cost money, and lots of it. Estimates diverge widely over how big a financial burden consumers and taxpayers would ultimately shoulder, but rest assured that it would be plenty.

Continue Reading


October 17, 2013

The Delta Farm Press

Elton Robinson

Who’s really behind the GMO labeling movement?

Washington is the latest state to take up the mantle of mandatory GMO labeling.

According to an article in USA Today, Initiative 522 will go before voters Nov. 5. “We believe that we have a right to know what’s in our food,” said Elizabeth Larter, the Seattle-based communications director for the Yes on 522 campaign. “This campaign is not about whether genetically modified organisms are good or bad; this is really just providing more information for consumers.”

Yeah right.

Continue Reading