I’m ___________________________. We’re strong supporters of the right to know to know what’s in our food, and we regularly advocate the consumer’s right to an informed choice, the right to information that enables us to make sound decisions. We believe food producers have a responsibility to tell us how they produced the food they want us to buy. Let’s talk about Initiative 522, put on the November 5 ballot by more than 350,000 Washington voters who signed petitions last year, many of them in cold, wet rain at the end. It’s an amazing thing, the broad coalition of nurses, physicians, farmers, fishing families, environmental organizations that has come together. Voters are with us -- polling says that 8 out of 10 voters want GMO labeling.Let’s start with the basics.
You’ll hear two different terms, GMOs and genetically engineered. GMOs is the term for genetically modified organisms created through genetic engineering. DNA is altered artificially in a laboratory with genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria to produce foreign compounds. GMOs cannot occur in nature. They are completely novel, man-made creations.
The reason for I-522 is the fundamental American right to know information about the food we eat and feed our families. Labels ensure transparency, they’re just common sense, give us, as shoppers, more information so we can make our own decisions about what to eat and feed our families. U.S. companies already label genetically engineered foods to markets overseas.
Here’s one example:General Mills’ Cheerios … “This product may contain GMOs” General Mills uses a sticker for the British market, apparently, over the basic U.S. label, so it’s the same food! Already labeled.
Here’s the back label on a Hershey’s candy bar, showing “genetically engineered sugar” for a European market. Notice it’s labeled “Made in the USA,” see it bottom right, right behind the Hershey’s logo. Actually, we know labeling genetically engineered foods does not mean people won’t buy them, they do, and the companies still prosper
Here’s Betty Crocker Cake Mate frosting, also labeled Made in the USA, with four genetically engineered ingredients labeled for Australia markets.Genetically engineered corn syrupGenetically engineered soybean/cottonseed oilGenetically engineered maltodextrin (from corn)Genetically engineered cornstarch
Foods that would be labeled under 522 include the genetically engineered salmon that FDA has recommended for approval. Sweet corn (one of the two types if a registered pesticide)PapayaAnd many processed foods – including baby formula, cereals, corn chips and tortillas, soy milk, canola oil, candy, and soda pop with genetically engineered sugar
Here’s what a label would look like, under I-522, on a package of cold cereal:“May be partially produced with genetic engineering.”No big deal. Just gives us a little more information on the package, like other information.
I’d like to say a few words about the genetically engineeredsalmonFDA is recommending for humanconsumption.It was recommended for approval as a “new animal drug” – meaning this engineered animal was subjected to less rigorous safety standards than even food additives. Because it has been evaluated as a drug, public input is blocked. No one from the outside may see or criticize the data.There’s no data on two identified potential hazards -- added growth hormones, and a hormone called IGF-1 -- because inappropriate and tests were used. The company’s own studies found elevated levels of that hormone, IGF-1, which is linked to breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer in people The FDA tested only six fish for allergens and even that limited testing showed an increase in potential to cause allergies. this fish have less of the good fats that make salmon good for us. Alaska already passed a law in 2005, 8 years ago, to require labels on engineered seafood to protect the fishing industry.I-522 would protect Washington’s fishing industry, worth $123 million to our state treasury
In the United States, there are numerous regulatory loopholes.Industry determines whether its products are safe.Market approval is based on industry research alone. No long-term health studies on the effects of eating engineered foods ever have been conducted by any government agency. They do not require FDA approval before entering the food supply. They’re considered “substantially equivalent,” without testing for potential toxins, mutagens, carcinogens, immune system suppressants, or new allergensLast summer, the American Medical Association passed a resolution calling for mandatory safety assessments. It’s why Washington State Nurses Association have endorsed I-522, to be able to track potential impacts from diet.
There is global agreement genetically engineered foods are different than traditionalfoods.There’s global agreement all genetically engineered foods should undergo mandatory safety assessments before market approval. The U.S. does not meet these standards. (per Codex Alimentarius, the food safety standards organization run by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization)
64 countries have laws to label genetically engineered foods. More have bans or other restrictions.Israel has a total ban against seeds and exports, Hungary has a total ban on imports and foods. Russia, Venezuela and Peru have moratoriums or bans. That’s a big partof what I-522 is about. If we want to engage in global economy, we need to listen to our customers, and most of our key trading partners require labeling.
Genetic engineering is more than a food issue, it’s also an economic issue. Consider, the production value of WA wheat is $1.14 billion (2011 data)Washington apples are worth $824 million in export valueWild salmon is worth $123 million in export valueWho are we going to sell to, if all of Asia and Europe require labels?
In fact, without strict separation from the seed level, up through the supply chain, genetically engineeredfoods have worsened the U.S. trade deficit and national debt. GE crops have cost the economy an estimated $12 billion since 1999 in subsidies, lower crop prices, loss of exports and product recalls. More than $1 Billion in losses just from Starlink, and another $1 B from Liberty Link rice. (Soil Association)Countries that used to buy American rice -- Europe, Japan, Russia and others -- cancelled orders when the USDA announced in 2006 that rice from five states in the South was contaminated with GMOs. Importers reportedly are buying now from Thailand, Pakistan, India and Uruguay.We’ve just seen Japan, S Korea and Taiwan cut off buying Washington white wheat, suspended. The farmers says they can’t farm without their markets overseas. Labeling will give our trade partners a great degree of confidence that we are serious about NOT mixing up the supply chain.
The thing about labeling, companies change labels all the time, without raising food prices. Adding or changing a few words on labels is a routine part of the food business. Ingredients change all the time, and labels change all the time, on average every 18 months. I-522 ensures 18 months to comply in labeling. The Commissioner (for health and Consumer Protection) of the European Parliament says when the EU started labeling, it did not result in any changes in food costsIn fact, there’s no report of any changes in food costs from labeling laws in Europe, or in any of the 64 countries with laws requiring engineered food labels
Labels give us information about all sorts of things, including all sorts of artificial additives we can’t pronounce but appreciate having on the labels. Whether colors and flavors are artificial, whether seafood is farm raised or wild, the country (or mixed countries) of origin ….. we also have a right to know whether foods are genetically engineered.Labels let us choose what to buy. They give us the information, so we can have control over our dcisions for what we want to buy and eat. decide.
That’s covering the basics. Be sure to visit Yeso522.com to get involved and support your right to know, and the freedom to choose what to buy and eat. I’m happy to answer questions.
GMO Food and I-522 Labeling
Genetically Engineered Food
and I-522 Labeling
Images are from Google Images and may be subject to copyright
GMOs (genetically modified
organisms) are created through
biotechnology, also called
What are GMOs?
DNA is altered
artificially in a lab
with genes from
animals, viruses or
bacteria to produce
GMOs cannot occur
Right to know what we buy
to help choose and decide
Grocery foods that would be labeled
• GE salmon
• GE sweet corn
• GE papaya
• Baby formula, cereal, corn
chips and tortillas, soy milk,
canola oil, candy, soda pop
An I-522 label:
• FDA: a “new animal drug”
• No data: growth hormones
or IGF-1 hormone
• Increased allergic potential
• Less omega-3 “good fat”
• Industry determines whether products are
• No long-term health studies conducted
• Do not require FDA approval
• “Substantially equivalent” means no testing
for toxins, mutagens, carcinogens,
immune system damage, new allergens
• American Medical Association: “should
require safety assessments”
Current regulatory loopholes
• GE foods are different
• Safety assessments required
• Washington wheat $1.14 billion
• Washington apples $824 million
• Washington wild salmon $123 million
Mixed supply chain is costly
• ~ $12 Billion lost
- lower crop prices
- lost exports
- product recalls
• Starlink Corn cost $1 B
• Liberty Link Rice cost $1 B
Companies re-label often …
… without raising food prices
No changes in food costs from labeling in Europe.
- Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection,