I-522 is a ballot initiative that Washington state voters will decide in November 2013. The measure would require a warning label on thousands of food products that include an ingredient from genetically modified (GM) crops; it also includes other provisions that would negatively impact Washington farmers, food companies and ultimately, consumers and taxpayers. We want to be clear about why we have joined farmers, researchers and scientists, biotechnology companies and businesses as well as doctors among others as part of a broad coalition opposing I-522.
Today’s Labeling Landscape Promotes Choice in the Marketplace
Opinion surveys consistently report that consumers support FDA’s current labeling policy – mandatory labeling for important nutrition or safety information. Food companies can and do provide additional information voluntarily to meet the preferences of their customers; Monsanto is 100% supportive of food companies’ choices to voluntarily label food to meet the needs and desires of their customers. Today, hundreds of products labeled organic or certified non-GM are available for consumers who prefer these products. This approach provides choices for every consumer, making it easy to find specific products like organic and non-GM, and does so without risking consumer confusion. A recent piece from the editors of Scientific American states that “mandatory labels for genetically modified foods are a bad idea.”
Experts Have Determined that Foods and Ingredients Developed from GM Crops Are Safe
Agricultural biotechnology, the science of genetic engineering (GE), has been used for nearly two decades to produce plant varieties of corn, soybeans and canola among others that can persevere despite insect pests, plant viruses, damaging weeds or challenging weather conditions such as drought.
GE crops undergo extensive testing and are subject to approvals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Major scientific organizations throughout the world – including the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) , European Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) – have concluded that foods derived from biotechnology are safe. The American Medical Association (AMA) states “Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.”
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society and publisher of Science magazine, says, “GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. Legally mandating such a label can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers.” Even the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) agrees that there’s no safety issue and labeling would be misleading. We agree.
Scare Tactics Are Unacceptable
Proponents of I-522 are misleading consumers about the safety of GM foods, and have admitted that their goal is not just to require a label on such foods, but to ultimately ban these foods altogether. These proponents are waging a campaign of fear tactics and misinformation about the safety and benefits of these crops. While we respect that some people may choose to avoid GM ingredients, it is wrong to mislead and scare people about the safety of their food choices.
This is Much More than Just a Labeling Measure
I-522 would impose significant new burdens on family farmers and food producers to implement its costly and bureaucratic requirements – requiring thousands of food products to be repackaged and relabeled just for Washington state. These costs will ultimately be passed along to food consumers through higher food prices.
We Stand by the Science
Farmers have seen the environmental and economic benefits of modern food technologies for more than 15 years. Food companies and others see 522 as threatening the public’s confidence in the safety of their products. Both have encouraged us to join with them in the effort to oppose this misleading initiative. We agree and we stand by the science and the safety of our agricultural technology.
We encourage interested parties to get the facts and learn more at www.FactsAbout522.com.