Newspaper editors say 'no' to GMO labels

Posted by Ralph Schwartz on October 15, 2013 

Editorials so far also oppose I-517

Wondering what the editorial boards at The Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune or maybe The Wenatchee World think about Initiative 522, GMO labeling? Or what I refer to as "the other initiative," I-517, which enhances protections for signature gatherers, lengthens the time for signature gathering and prohibits municipalities from suing to stop measures from appearing on the ballot?

Well, some editorials are still pending, but of those that have been published, they all say basically "no" and "no."

The Washington Policy Center has a web page with convenient access to the editorials from nine newspapers around the state. Your Bellingham Herald isn't among them. I make a point of not knowing the business of our editorial board, but I don't think it will write endorsement editorials for I-517 or I-522.

Take for example our sister paper, the Chihuly-graced Tacoma News Tribune. What torqued the editors there about I-517 was not the protections afforded ballot measures -- protections that convinced Lisa McShane and Stoney Bird, otherwise anti-Tim Eyman, to publicly support Eyman's I-517. Rather, the Tacoma eds were put off by what they thought were excessive protections for signature gatherers "that infringe on those of private property owners and the public."

The Tacoma editors reserved their harshest language for the GMO-label editorial.

It's been interesting to follow the I-522 discussion locally. I've heard smart, well-informed people say there are studies showing GMOs are harmful. I've even heard people say they were for labeling because they thought the initiative called for labels of "non-GMO" food, in the same spirit as the "organic" label on some foods. While that's a good idea, it's not what the initiative is about. As the TNT put it, the initiative writers instead opted for a "scarlet letter" to brand products with genetically engineered ingredients.

An excerpt from the Tacoma editorial:


"What’s most misleading is the premise of the labeling – that there’s something so suspect about genetic modification that the public must be warned on the front of box. All genetic modification for any reason whatsoever – even to enhance a crop’s nutritional value or help the plant survive droughts and farms conserve water. This is crank thinking, not science.

"GE opponents will cite a relative handful of studies that supposedly raise alarms about the entire technology. That’s not how science works. It reaches conclusions through broad research and growing scientific consensus, not isolated reports from outliers with Ph.Ds.

"Contrary to opponents’ claims, extensive research – many hundreds of studies – has been done on GE crops and foods. Also contrary to their claims, much of that research has been done by independent scientists, not just Monsanto and other vested interests. More than 100 research projects have been funded by the European Union, which as been notably cautious about biotech foods."


I'll try to watch for the other newspapers' endorsements as they come in so I can update.


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