Letters | Gene-altered foods need to be labeled
December 7, 2012 · 3:36 PM
Last week, the King County Democrats unanimously passed the resolution I wrote asking the Legislature to require food products containing GMOs to be labeled.
A genetically modified organism (GMO)-is a plant or an animal whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering (GE) techniques. So far, this is being done with bacteria and yeast, plants, fish, birds and mammals. The techniques enable the combination of genetic materials from life forms that normally do not breed with each other. For example, corn can be grown to produce its own pesticide by being injected with genetic code from a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt). Humans exposed orally to 1000 mg/day for three to five days of Bt have shown no ill effects. However, no long-term studies have been conducted.
GMOs are believed by many to have serious adverse effects on human health, particularly in children or the elderly, and to lead to environmental contamination including harm to such beneficial insects as bees (the principal pollinators of apples).
The Washington Apple Commission and the U.S. Apple Association have recently announced their opposition to GE apples.
Certain people’s dietary or religious restrictions may be violated by eating foods containing GMOs. U.S. food-labeling regulations require disclosure of calorie and nutritional information, country of origin, transfat content and several specified allergens, but there is no federal or state requirement to identify GE foods. Many other countries have adopted outright bans on GE foods, and 49 others (including Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Russia, the European Union member states and other key United States trading partners) have enacted laws mandating the labeling of GMOs on food labels.
We have several organic farms and ranches here in the Snoqualmie Valley who need to know whether the seed and feed they buy are genetically engineered or contain GMOs so they can export their products or sell them as organic products in our markets.
I believe many consumers want to know, and all are entitled to be informed whether the foods they purchase are genetically engineered or contain GMOs. Signatures are being collected so that Initiative 522, “The People’s Right to Know Genetically-Engineered Food Act,” which would require labeling of GE food products sold in the state, can be put on the ballot. Vitamin World on North Bend Way and the Nursery at Mt. Si are two local businesses that are collecting signatures.
I urge qualified Washington residents to sign, and to gather others’ signatures to put Initiative 522 on the ballot. Write your 5th Legislative District State legislators, Mark Mullet, Jay Rodne, and Chad Madendanz, to adopt Initiative 522 in the upcoming 63rd legislative session.
The 5th District Democrats covering Issaquah, the Snoqualmie Valley and other parts of King County have endorsed I-522, “The People's Right To Know Genetically-Engineered Food Act.”