Story Summary

Genetically modified organisms or GMOs

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Organisms that have been genetically modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, insects, plants, fish, and mammals.

In agriculture, genetically engineered crops are created to possess several desirable traits, such as resistance to pests, herbicides, or harsh environmental conditions, improved product shelf life, increased nutritional value, or production of valuable goods such as drugs.  Critics have objected to GMO crops per se on several grounds, including ecological concerns, and whether food produced from GMO crops is safe for human consumption.


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gmoSEATTLE — The Seattle City Council voted 8-1 Monday night to back Initiative 522, which would require labels on all genetically modified food products, the NPR radio station KPLU reported.

The initiative is going on November’s ballot, so voters will decide the issue at that time.

But City Council members wanted to go on record as supporting it. The lone dissenting vote was from City Councilwoman Jean Godden, who said she voted no only because voters will decide the issue, not the City Council.

KPLU said the Washington Wheat Growers Association issued a statement opposed to the measure, saying it would force farmers and food companies to pay for new food labels and record-keeping that no other state requires.

Supporters of the initiative announced they would gather at Seattle’s Theo Chocolate on Wednesday to show their backing for the new labels, KPLU said.




Local News

Group protests genetically engineered foods

SEATTLE — The fight over genetically engineered food is heating up in Washington. This fall voters will decide on whether to support Initiative 522, which would require a special label on products that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

protest sign at westinBoth sides are pointing fingers – charging opponents with misleading people about the issues.

But supporters of I-522 have an easy-to-remember message; they say people have a right to know what they’re putting in their bodies.

Demonstrators carried signs and cheered for I-522 outside the Westin Hotel as food companies held meetings inside.

“I believe that in the precautionary principle, we need to have transparency and openness and disclose,” said I-522 supporter Carin Chase.

Opponents of I-522 say the initiative wouldn’t require labels on all such foods – and would create consumer confusion

“(It) exempts two-thirds of the food and beverage sold in Washington,” said Dana Bieber with the ‘No on I-522′ campaign. “Under this initiative, no consumer would have a reliable way to know the ingredients that are in their food.”

That’s because while packaged foods would be labeled, prepared food at a restaurant or school cafeteria, for instance, would not.

Nell Abercrombie with the Central Co-op on Capitol Hill says they’re seeing a surge in customers looking for the little label.

“Most people just want to know what they’re buying and they want to have the freedom to make the choice,” said Abercrombie. “Many people have concerns about possible allergens in those foods that we don’t totally understand or other impacts those foods can have in our bodies.”

The food and farming industries call the health-risk argument fear-mongering and say these products wouldn’t be on the shelf if they were dangerous.

“We don’t believe that there is anything different between a GMO product and a non-GMO product,” said Tom Davis of the Washington State Farm Bureau. “They’re both safe.”

But if there’s nothing wrong with genetically engineered foods, supporters want to know why anybody would oppose letting people know that’s what they’re buying.

“Why is there opposition to labeling what’s in your food?” asked Chase. “There are 64 other countries that have some kind of regulation on genetic engineering in your food so why should we be hiding it?”

Voters can let their voices be heard in November when I-522 is on the ballot. If it passes, Washington would be the first state in the nation to require these labels.

Local News

GMO food labeling debate

gmoSEATTLE – The battle continues in the fight for mandatory labels of genetically modified foods. Supporters of Initiative 522 will hold a rally at Westlake Square this afternoon to talk about why they say the labels are important.

But some industry leaders say the initiative is misleading and might end up costing consumers more money.

Coming up on Q13 Fox at 4 and 5, hear from both supporters and opponents about this controversial issue.