At this point, you have probably read news statements claiming the vote on I-522 to require mandatory labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) has failed. Did the $22 Million mostly contributed by out of state interest groups sway the voters of Washington? Is the battle really over, or has it just begun?
All ballot initiatives in the state of Washington are done via mail-in voting and the votes are still being counted. The Associated Press, in its coverage of the measure, has described I-522 as “failing in early returns,” but has yet to predict a winner. Previous predictions on the percentage of registered voters who would participate in the election ranged from 30 percent to more than 50 percent, so the vote count could change dramatically. Most importantly, only about 22.4 percent of the registered voters in King County have been collected, and among those, the measure is leading 55.8 percent to 44.2 percent. Read more from Politico.
According to the Yes on I-522 Update campaign, there are “Hundreds of Thousands of Votes Still to Be Counted!” In its latest statement from Seattle, the group goes on to say, “There are too many votes that have not been counted for this race to be called. The Washington Secretary of State is currently reporting that over 300,000 votes still have to be counted and KOMO News 4 in Seattle noted that there were more votes to be counted and results are not yet final.”
Indeed, Delana Jones, Campaign Manager for Yes on 522, said, “This race is not over yet. More results will be available after 6pm Pacific Wednesday Nov 6th” It could be days before we know the true outcome of this battle.
What we do know is that we got the attention of the big agricultural sector. Never before has a state ballot initiative raised so much money to fight one single issue. The issue has gained considerable public awareness and the attention of many more consumers across the country. Perhaps we’ve reached a tipping point, with national policy changes possible in the not too distant future. Studies show that over 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling. There are labeling initiatives underway in 26 more states, and the big companies, like Monsanto, must face skirmishes in each one, in addition to shareholder pressure. We will continue to fight this through many different paths. We ultimately need labeling of GMO on a national level. Going forward, there are several organizations that need your support and involvement:
- The Center for Food Safety works on the front lines with legislation
- The Non GMO Project verifies and labels products that do not contain GMOs
- To date, 37 states have assembled a coalition with the common goal of winning mandatory labeling
- Friends of the Earth have a Campaign for GE-Free Seafood
- The Just Label It campaign has submitted over 1.3 million signatures urging the FDA to label GMO products.
- GMO Inside offers up a great video.
- Stay tuned to the Yes on I-522 website for final results and next steps.
David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and one of our biggest champions, may have said it best: “Win or lose, this is a long war Labeling is inevitable.”