YES on I-522: Ensure choice and transparency at stores

As a farmer, I am impacted every day by the choices shoppers make. That is part of the fun in being a grower.

We grow and sell what our customers want. Market meeting demand. I am supporting Initiative 522 because I believe transparency is necessary in allowing consumers to choose which products they purchase. Information is the key to supporting a productive and sustainable food system. With the labeling of genetically engineered foods, shoppers get to make an informed choice when buying their groceries.

This is what I-522 is all about – giving customers a choice at the grocery store. I-522 will label food that has been genetically engineered, like corn. It would also label food that has been produced with genetic engineering, like cold cereals, soda pop and candy. Just like we already label foods for sugar, sodium, country of origin, or whether our fish is farm-raised or wild-caught, I-522 is about providing more information to you, the shopper. You have the right to know whether your food was genetically engineered or not.

Last year, opponents of labeling dumped $46 million into the fight against mandatory GMO-labeling in California. So far in Washington, the total donated by corporations in opposition to I-522 is $12 million. The money spent by the “side with something to hide” convinced voters in California that it would cost too much money to change the labels on food products that contain GMOs.

How ridiculous is that? Food companies change and update labels all of the time, and I don’t see prices rising with the advent of the next best label. Really, what we should be asking as consumers is why opponents of I-522 need to spend so much money on a campaign that limits transparency and ultimately makes us less informed shoppers.

Second, the opposition claims that I-522 is confusing. It isn’t. I-522 was written to conform to common labeling standards. When you go to your grocery store, the frozen pizza is labeled. When you get pizza at your local pizzeria, it isn’t labeled. I-522 won’t change that.

Last, opponents of labeling are claiming that this will hurt farmers. As a farmer, I can tell you it won’t. Farming is about growing products that your customers want. I-522 won’t change that. Farmers can still grow what they want. And if I-522 were going to hurt farmers, then why have hundreds of farmers endorsed the Yes on 522 campaign?

The opposition is being supported by big, out-of-state corporations – not everyday farmers like me. Don’t listen to them. I-522 will not hurt farmers.

Don’t fall for the opponents’ false and misleading claims. Initiative 522 is not costly or confusing. It will not hurt farmers. It is about giving grocery shoppers the freedom to choose when buying their groceries.

This Nov. 5, vote Yes on Initiative 522. Every Washingtonian should have access to more information about the groceries we buy.

Dan Hulse is the owner of Tahoma Farms in Orting and Terra Organics in Tacoma.