GMO labeling law defeated in Washington State

Washington state genetically engineered food
CC BY 2.0 Flickr user Alexis Baden-Mayer

After a week of counting ballots, the proposed law to label genetically modified foods in Washington state lost 52 to 48 percent.

The proposal, I-522, is the second GMO labeling law on the West Coast to be defeated. Last year, a similar bill in California also lost on the November 5 ballot. However, Maine and Connecticut have passed provisional legislation to mandate labeling. Both states require that labeling legislation also be passed in neighboring states whose borders touch before the laws will go into effect.

Several major food manufacturers poured tens of thousands of dollars into fighting the legislation in Washington, with Coca-Cola, PespiCo and Nestle USA both contributing over $1 million each. Supporters of the labeling bill raised about $7 million and the opposition raised $22 million.

The Organic Consumer's Union, which supported the labeling law, calls the results a "hollow victory." Ronnie Cummins of Organic Consumer's Union writes that the Washington fight has raised awareness of GMOs:

"Thanks to increased consumer awareness and resistance against GMOs (genetically modified organisms), the biotech and junk food lobbies were forced to spend twice as much money per capita in Washington State as they spent in California."