Frequently Asked Questions

En Español

  1. Why is it important to pass Initiative 522 (I-522)?
  2. Will this impact food prices?
  3. How much money do you expect to raise?
  4. What groups have endorsed I-522?
  5. Are you worried that this measure will fail since a similar initiative failed in California?
  6. What type of salmon is on the logo?
  7. Are all foods, including meat and dairy, required to be labeled if genetically engineered (GE) under this Initiative?
  8. Does the initiative require labeling of meat or dairy?
  9. Does the initiative require labeling of genetically engineered fish?
  10. I’ve heard that there are studies that show there are no effects of genetically engineered foods on humans, then why do we need special GE/GMO labels?
  11. Do other states or countries require foods to have genetically engineered labels?


1. Why is it important to pass Initiative 522 (I-522)?

A “yes” vote on Initiative 522 (I-522) would give Washington shoppers more information about what’s in the food they eat and feed their families. Under this initiative, genetically engineered foods, including corn or soy, or foods with genetically engineered ingredients like chips, cold cereals, soft drinks, and candy would be required to be labeled noting that the food or processed food has been genetically engineered. Labeling genetically engineered foods would give shoppers more control over their shopping decisions.

2. Will this impact food prices?

Contrary to the opposition’s claims, label updates are a routine part of business for the food industry and should not result in additional costs to shoppers. For example, Food companies re-label soda cans and cereal boxes all the time and it doesn’t affect cost. We already include labels for sugar and fat content, ingredients and numerous other things, so there would be no cost in labeling genetically engineered foods. Labeling genetically engineered foods is about transparency and empowering shoppers.

Even food companies are saying there is no real additional cost:

According to Arran Stephens, president and founder of Nature’s Path: “We, as with most manufacturers, are continually updating our packaging. It is a regular cost of doing business – a small one at that – and is already built into our cost structure. Claims that labeling GMOs would significantly increase the price of food for consumers just aren’t true. Companies would certainly be updating their packaging for other reasons within the 18 months they will be given to comply with the new law, and could simply make the additional GMO labeling changes at the same time.”

On labeling genetically engineered foods, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder, Jerry Greenfield stated that, “This can be done. It won’t materially affect the company’s profit margins.”

3. How much money do you expect to raise?

Although we will never be able to match the many millions of dollars we anticipate big agribusiness will pour into Washington to defeat this measure, we believe we will enjoy significant financial support from citizens across the state and that this support will enable us to raise the resources we need to run a competitive campaign.

4. What groups have endorsed I-522?

Our support is diverse and widespread across the state. Community groups, environmental organizations, businesses, Washington Nurses Association and Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Republicans and Democrats, moms and dads, fishing families and farmers have come together in support of I-522. We are also pleased to have the support of businesses like PCC Natural Markets, Marlene’s Market, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Nature’s Path, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, Amy’s Kitchen, and Whole Foods, which recently announced that it will require the labeling of genetically modified food in its stores within five years.

Our full list of endorsements are available here.

5. Are you worried that this measure will fail since a similar initiative failed in California?

Let’s not forget that despite large chemical and pesticide companies spending well over $45 million, they barely defeated the measure. Prop 37 heightened awareness of this issue and advanced the national dialogue about food labeling. For example, since the California measure failed in November 2012, that they would require all of their products to have GMO labels by 2018 and many grocery stores have . Chipotle, the restaurant chain, also recently announced it started labeling its genetically engineered ingredients.

“Yes on 522” is doing things a little differently. With the excitement and momentum from JustLabelItWa turning in over 350,000 signatures to get I-522 on the fall ballot, we have started this campaign with a lot of interest and public engagement. People, organizations, businesses and communities from all over the state are coming together to ensure Washington consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they and their families eat.

To learn more about our broad base coalition of support, click here to see our endorsers.

6. What type of salmon is on the logo?

King Salmon.

7. Are all foods, including meat and dairy, required to be labeled if genetically engineered (GE) under this Initiative?

Initiative 522 is an important first step in giving Washington shoppers the information they need to make informed decisions about the food they buy and feed their families. It was modeled on the most common global GE labeling standards. The authors of the initiative intentionally worked to ensure that Washington’s labeling laws would not be stricter than global standards so that it wouldn’t have an adverse economic impact on our farmers and food producers.

Here are some examples of food that, under this initiative, would require labeling if they were genetically engineered or contained genetically engineered ingredients: sweet corn, papaya, cold cereals, corn chips, soy milk, canola oil, soft drinks and candy.

8. Does the initiative require labeling of meat or dairy?

Meat and dairy from animals that are themselves genetically engineered would be labeled under I-522. Meat and dairy from animals that only ate genetically engineered feed would not be labeled under this initiative. This conforms with common global labeling standards. It wouldn’t make economic sense for Washington to be stricter than global standards, because that could have an adverse economic impact on our farmers and food producers.

9. Does the initiative require labeling of genetically engineered fish?

Yes. Genetically engineered salmon, which the Food and Drug Administration is recommending for approval, will be labeled under I-522. Alaska already passed a law in 2005 to require labels on genetically engineered fish and seafood.

10. I’ve heard that there are studies that show there are no effects of genetically engineered foods on humans, then why do we need special GE/GMO labels?

Initiative 522 is important first step because Washington shoppers should have the right to know what’s in the food they and their families eat. Just like you have the right to know the nutritional content of your breakfast cereal or favorite candy bar, Yes on 522 allows shoppers to have more control over their grocery shopping decisions.

A “yes” vote on 522 allows Washington shoppers to make informed decisions when buying food for themselves and their families.

11. Do other states or countries require foods to have genetically engineered labels?

Yes, there are more than 60 countries around the world that require labels for food or ingredients that have been genetically engineered. To download a map of those countries, please click here. [PDF]

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