Washington Friends of Farms & Forests, a nonprofit organization representing more than 120 agricultural and forestry organizations and individuals, has joined Washington’s leading agricultural groups in opposition to Initiative 522 on the November ballot. I-522 is opposed by the state’s leading farming groups, as well as by scientists, doctors, businesses and citizens.
“I-522 would impose costly new requirements for family farmers, food producers and retailers that will ultimately increase the cost of food for Washington consumers,” said Heather Hansen, Executive Director of WFFF. “What’s worse, I-522 is so poorly written and full of special exemptions that it will not even give consumers a reliable way of knowing if foods are made with GE ingredients and which are not.”
Under I-522, thousands of common grocery products would have to be specially relabeled in order to be sold in Washington, unless they are remade with higher priced, specially handled ingredients just for our state.
Family farmers, food producers, grocers and retailers would have to implement distinct systems to grow, handle, process, transport and sell food and beverage products in Washington. Farmers would also have to create extensive new recordkeeping systems to track all food products -- foods that contain GE ingredients (so they can be properly labeled) as well as foods without GE ingredients.
These new requirements would add millions of dollars in costs for Washington farmers and food companies, and make Washington products more costly than other states.
Furthermore, I-522 would provide misleading information to consumers. I-522 contains special exemptions for 2/3 of the foods sold in Washington. Under I-522, some foods that don’t contain any genetically engineered ingredients could require a special label, while others would be exempt from regulations even if they contain -- or are made -- with GE ingredients. So consumers wouldn’t even get the information they think they are getting.
In addition to Washington Friends of Farms & Forests, agriculture and food industry groups opposing I-522 include the Washington State Farm Bureau, Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Northwest Grocery Association, Washington State Dairy Federation, Washington State Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Far West Agribusiness Association, Washington Cattlemen's Association, Benton County Farm Bureau, Yakima Valley Farm Bureau, Grays Harbor/Pacific County Farm Bureau, Whatcom Farm Friends, Washington Asparagus Council, Northwest Food Processors Association, Spokane County Farm Bureau, Washington Potato and Onion Association, Yakima Valley Growers & Shippers Association, Washington State Hay Growers Association, Whatcom County Farm Bureau, Snohomish County Farm Bureau, King-Pierce County Farm Bureau, Okanogan County Farm Bureau, Franklin County Farm Bureau, Skagit County Farm Bureau and others.