is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

  • American Agriculturist
  • Beef Producer
  • Corn and Soybean Digest
  • Dakota Farmer
  • Delta Farm Press
  • Farm Futures
  • Farm Industry news
  • Indiana Prairie Farmer
  • Kansas Farmer
  • Michigan Farmer
  • Missouri Ruralist
  • Nebraska Farmer
  • Ohio Farmer
  • Prairie Farmer
  • Southeast Farm Press
  • Southwest Farm Press
  • The Farmer
  • Wallaces Farmer
  • Western Farm Press
  • Western Farmer Stockman
  • Wisconsin Agriculturist
GMO Labeling Measure Fails in Washington

GMO Labeling Measure Fails in Washington

Proposal would have made labeling of GM foods or foods containing GMO products mandatory

Washington voters in all but four of the state's counties Tuesday rejected a measure to label genetically modified foods and foods made with GM material.

According to the Washington Secretary of State, 986,806 of the state's nearly 4 million voters turned out to cast their ballots, with 45% entering a yes vote and 54% voting no.

The measure, which would have made Washington the first state to implement GM labeling, sparked a heated debate in the state, garnering huge campaign contributions on both sides of the discussion. Nearly $30 million was spent advertising and other public messages between the two campaigns, according to an Oct. 30 analysis by Maplight.

Proposal would have made labeling of GM foods or foods containing GMO products mandatory

Yes on 522, a group that collected nearly $8 million to support the initiative, Tuesday said the race was too close to call.

"Due to Washington State's vote-by-mail system, we don't have a final tally of the votes," Delana Jones, campaign manager for Yes on 522 said in a statement. "Please stay tuned for more information in the following days."

The group, which argued that consumers had a right to know what is in their food, said the initiative originated from a petition that more than 300,000 Washington residents signed. Key donors included Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Center for Food Safety Action Fund, and

On the other side of the argument, No on 522, supported by top contributors Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and PepsiCo, said the labeling measure would have significant costs to industry and agriculture, as well as consumers.

"This is a clear victory for Washington consumers, taxpayers and family farmers," Dana Bieber, spokesperson for No on 522 said in a statment. "Washington voters have soundly rejected this badly written and deceptive initiative."

The No campaign took issue specifically with exemptions that appeared in the initiative. For example, foods purchased at restaurants and meat and dairy products from animals fed GE grains were not required to be labeled.

The campaign did face a misstep earlier in the year as one of the lead sponsors, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, was hit with a money laundering lawsuit by the Washington State Attorney General.

The suit alleged that GMA – which represents more than 300 food and beverage companies – had collected and spent more than $7 million on the campaign while shielding the identity of its contributors.

Despite the setbacks, and no vote on the measure, it's likely that the fight is not over. Similar measures have been introduced in several state legislatures and a ballot initiative for labeling was narrowly defeated last year in California.

Now, groups in Oregon are preparing for a similar battle in the next election cycle, according to U.S. Sen. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., backing up a campaign that has in previous years been introduced nationally but failed to materialize.

UPDATE: Final vote tally for the I-522 measure was 48.91% voting yes, and 51.09% voting no. There were 1,753,068 votes in total, according to the Washington Secretary of State.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.