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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Taking a Stand on Washington’s I-522: Misleading and Increase Food Costs

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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.

3 Responses to "Taking a Stand on Washington’s I-522: Misleading and Increase Food Costs"

  1. I’ve done too much reading and listening to vote against I522. Monsanto is the the corporate giant who has too much to lose and is opposing I522. They even threatened a state on east coast who wanted everything labeled and Monsanto stepped in (as usual) and threatened a law suite. Look up the farmer who raised pigs, they were all sick so he dropped the GMO feed and didn’t lose the piglets he did when on GMO, pigs weren’t getting sick, no diarrhea, no more shots. Why do you think European countries ban GMO feed, foods, seeds, etc. I can’t believe people can be blindsided.

    • Monsanto did not threaten any state (and you’re referring to Vermont here) over labeling or any other issue. That was a claim first articulated by Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association, and people believed it. But it simply isn’t true, and if you Google it you will discover that. The pig farmer information you refer to was actually a study done by an opponent of GM, and if they had considered all of the data they themselves developed, they would have seen that their study actually supported the safety of GM feed. And GM feed is imported into Europe, and GM crops are actually grown in several countries in Europe (i.e., Spain and Portugal). That GM crops are not grown in other European countries has nothing to do with science or safety and everything to do with politics.


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