I-522 also known as the ‘Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Measure’, demands mandatory labels on the front of food packages which says a product is made partially using genetic engineering or, for fresh foods and seeds, if it is genetically engineered.
If it had been approved, the initiative would have required foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled or face a penalty of up to $1,000 a day for each mislabeled item.
'It would only confuse consumers'
The stipulations would have taken effect on July 1, 2015.
Jim Greenwood, president/CEO, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), said food labels should convey valuable and accurate information to consumers but mandatory initiatives to label all foods containing genetically modified ingredients would only confuse consumers and raise food prices without any additional benefits.
“Just like 27 million voters in California and Oregon, Washington voters saw how this burdensome and deceptive labeling scheme would have created more state bureaucracy, imposed new costs and burdens on local farmers and businesses, and increased food prices for Washington families,” he added.
“We will continue to explore options that provide consumers with valuable information about the foods we eat.
“One example is the GMO Answers website, where consumers’ questions about GMOs and how our food is grown are asked and answered in a timely manner.
Inserting DNA/RNA into organisms
“Other informational resources include statements from credible scientific groups such as the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, among others.”
According to the Washington Official Voter Guide 2013, I-522 defined GMOs as foods in which there have been "changes to genetic material produced through techniques that directly insert DNA or RNA into organisms or that use cell fusion techniques to overcome natural barriers to cell multiplication or recombination."
The vote was brought to the Washington state ballot by anti-GMO activists as part of a national agenda to ban foods derived from genetically engineered crops.
It was opposed by farmers, scientists, doctors, consumers and businesses from across the state.
Election results revealed that 45.16% of voters in Washington were in favor of the initiative, while 54.84% of voters rejected the proposal.
A similar measure, California’s Proposition 37, was defeated in November last year.
BIO is a not-for-profit biotechnology trade association and it represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the globe.