Washington voters soundly reject I-522

Vote defeats misleading food labeling proposal in Washington state

SEATTLE – The No on 522 campaign claimed victory tonight as Washington voters soundly rejected Initiative 522, the badly written and costly food labeling initiative on the November statewide ballot.

I-522 was brought to the Washington state ballot this year by anti-GMO activists as part of a self-proclaimed national agenda to ban foods derived from genetically engineered crops.  The initiative was opposed by a broad coalition of family farmers, scientists, doctors, consumers and businesses from across the state.

With almost one million votes counted, at least one media outlet has announced that Initiative 522 has been defeated. At the time of that announcement the vote was 55% favoring NO.   

“This is a clear victory for Washington consumers, taxpayers and family farmers across our state,” said Dana Bieber, spokesperson for No on 522, in a statement Tuesday evening. “Washington voters have soundly rejected this badly written and deceptive initiative.”

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major newspaper across Washington agrees:
Vote NO on I-522

"Labeling needs to be done the right way, and I-522 falls short."
Everett Herald Editorial, 10/16/13
"Unknown complications, rising expense, heavy regulation, unnecessary fear and stigma, the initiative will bring all that. That is enough to vote no on Initiative 522."
Wenatchee World Editorial, 10/12/13
"Exemptions for everything from dairy and beef products to restaurant foods render much of I-522 meaningless to consumers."
The Spokesman-Review Editorial, 10/22/13
"The conversation should be focused on science - and not the unfounded fears being propagated by the supporters of Initiative 522."
Moscow-Pullman Daily News Editorial, 9/23/13
"This will be expensive for both food packers and food consumers."
Lewiston Tribune Editorial, 10/27/13
"Having individual states with specific labeling rules is costly for businesses and customers. It also hurts those growing products, such as wheat, that may or may not be genetically modified."
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial, 10/18/13
"I-522... it's a step in the wrong direction, adding costs without bringing benefits. The Herald editorial board recommends voters reject Initiative 522."
Tri-City Herald Editorial, 10/13/13
"All in all, the initiative holds the potential to create more problems than it solves -- for farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers"
Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial, 9/29/13
"I-522, meanwhile, contains too many inconsistencies to warrant support. It requires fruits, vegetables, and grain-based products to be labeled, but exempts meat and dairy products that come from animals fed by GMO grains."
The Columbian Editorial, 10/13/13
"Some foods with no genetically modified organisms would require a label, while other foods that do contain GMOs would not. The exemptions in this initiative would make no sense to consumers."
The Olympian Editorial, 10/22/13
"I-522 doesn't live up to its own truth-in-packaging claims."
Tacoma News Tribune Editorial, 10/6/13
"Washington voters and consumers can serve their best interests by voting No on I-522."
Seattle Times Editorial, 10/5/13
Editorial boards deem I-522 to be ‘clumsy’ and ‘costly’ with ‘no demonstrable benefits’
Leading Washington newspaper editorial boards have looked at the facts about Initiative 522 on the November ballot and are urging readers to reject the measure, calling I-522 a “clumsy, clunky effort” as well as “costly and burdensome” with “no demonstrable benefits,” and saying “if the initiative intends to inform consumers, it fails.”
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Ballots are in the mail! Remember to check NO on I-522 and mail in your ballot early.

By now, millions of voters across Washington have received ballots and have begun casting votes on Initiative 522.

The fact is, Washington consumers would get less reliable information from I-522’s labels than they already get from the free market. Its special exemptions and clumsy rules ensure that shoppers would only get inaccurate, inconsistent and incomplete information.

And on top of that, economic studies show Washington families would pay hundreds of dollars more for groceries if I-522 passes.

Make absolutely sure your NO vote on I-522 is counted. Mark your ballot for NO on I-522 and mail it today to be sure it is received and counted on Election Day.


The more Washington voters find out about I-522, the less they like it.

As Election Day nears, voters are recognizing the harm that would be done by I-522’s unfair and inaccurate proposal

Our coalition of farmers, doctors, scientists, food producers, nutrition experts and others have been successful in delivering our message to voters about why the voting NO on I-522 is the right choice for Washington.

  •  I-522 misleads with inaccurate, inconsistent and incomplete information about our food. Cheese made with GE enzymes would not be labeled under I-522, but sugar that contains no GE proteins would need to have a warning label on the front of the package. That’s just one of the confusing examples of mislabeling that would occur under I-522. Adding more confusion for shoppers would be the net result of I-522, a “clumsy” initiative that the Tacoma News Tribune said “does the opposite” of giving consumers accurate information, because giving the public wrong data is worse than giving none at all.
  • I-522 is unnecessary because the market is already giving shoppers valid and useful information about food, unlike the inaccurate and inconsistent label proposed in I-522. For those who want to choose non-GE foods, there are already voluntary nationwide labeling systems and consumer resources working in the marketplace that give shoppers useful, reliable information.
  • I-522 will hurt farmers and food producers by burdening them with a complex set of new and confusing regulations and exposing them to frivolous lawsuits. To comply with I-522, the farms and companies growing and producing food for our markets would be required to implement distinct systems and keep extensive records. Any mistake exposes local farmers and businesses to ‘bounty hunter’ lawsuits under which the state can impose penalties of up to $1,000 a day.
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News Article
September 18, 2013
Washington State Wire

Won’t cost a dime? Average family food bill would rise $490 a year under I-522, says opposition report

OLYMPIA, Sept. 17 —Advocates of Washington’s Initiative 522 say it won’t cost a dime, but a new opposition report says that if voters require warning labels on genetically modified food products, the typical family of four would pay an additional $490 a year for groceries.

That’s because I-522 would make Washington the first state to require labeling – meaning special packaging for the Washington market, and quite likely different products with different ingredients. And the hit to consumers would just be the start, opponents say – regulation also would cost state government tens of millions; farmers, manufacturers and grocery stores would have to spend hundreds of millions more to comply. There’s also the fact that third parties can sue to enforce the law. The sky might be the limit.

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Research & Studies

September 16, 2013

Washington Research Council: Initiative 522 is ‘costly, flawed and ill-conceived’

Economic study finds that I-522 would increase food costs for the average family by more than $450 per year – Measure does not provide funding for additional $22.5 million annual cost to taxpayers

A thoroughly researched and well-documented report done by the Washington Research Council found that I-522 would create a new burden on Washington consumer and taxpayers without providing real benefits.

“I-522 would increase costs for Washington consumers and the food industry, while exempting many products from labeling requirements,” the WRC wrote. “It would also reduce consumer choice and producer supply options.”

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Press Release
September 6, 2013
NO on 522 Coalition

Washington’s farming and agricultural groups unite in opposition to initiative 522

Costly food labeling measure on November statewide ballot would provide misleading information to consumers, hurt family farmers and increase food costs for Washington families

OLYMPIA – Washington’s leading agricultural groups representing tens of thousands of family farmers and food processors throughout the state, today announced their strong opposition to Initiative 522, calling it a costly, unfair and misleading food labeling measure.

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