Andrew Walsh - Nights on KIRO Radio
Andrew Walsh

What the 'No on 522' people don't want you to know about their food

Taken from the Wednesday edition of The Andrew Walsh Show.

If 522 passes, it would force food manufacturers to put a sticker on any food that contains genetically engineered ingredients. Now the people that are opposed to this, the food manufacturers, are dropping tons and tons of money into stopping the initiative from passing.

"No on 522" has raised nearly $11 million so far for their campaign. The "Yes on 522" campaign has a little over $5 million. It's David and Goliath, but let's be honest - both sides are taking in money from outside the state. On the No side you have companies like Monsanto and DuPont. On the Yes side you have companies like Dr. Bronner's organic soap - a soap company from California.

Companies like Dr. Bronner's that are truly organic are saying things like, we just want a level playing field - if there are chemicals or if it's genetically modified - just put a label on it.

It's not even a special label; you just put a sticker on it: some of the ingredients in this food have been genetically modified. Producer Nick equated it to a "contains nuts" warning.

If you're just an average citizen, it kind of boggles the mind why anyone would vote against this.

Obviously, the huge companies fear that once you see what they're putting in your food, you might not want to buy it. You might want to buy something organic.

So why would you vote against it? We watched the commercial from the "No on 522" campaign that offered up a few reasons, but there were some discrepancies.

"The food labeling regulations in I-522 conflict with national standards," says Dan Newhouse, a former director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, in the commercial.

All that means is that there isn't a federal law that says companies have to label their food. But that's why we're passing it. If there was a federal law, we wouldn't need to pass it on the state level. It doesn't mean that it's conflicting.

"They would require some foods to have special labels," says Newhouse.

Yeah, the foods that we eat.

"But give exemptions to others made with the same ingredients," he continues.

What exemptions? Producer Nick looked it up and found that there would be exemptions for food sold at a restaurant, as opposed to food that is packaged and sold at a store. So the beef here, so to say, is that anything you buy in the grocery store shouldn't get a label either, because it's not fair that restaurants don't get a label. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

"It's so badly written that pet food would be covered, but meat for human consumption would be exempt," says Newhouse.

That is redonkulous. The law says nothing about pet food. They just made that up. The creators of the initiative did not write an exemption into the law for pet food, and the No on 522 people say therefore, pet food must be covered.

But this law would involve stuff we put into our own faces, not our pets.

"Food labels should be consistent with federal standards so farmers, food producers and consumers in every state are treated equally," says the ad.

The one last thing - they didn't address the cost argument in this commercial that I've heard during their campaign. Another misconception that the No on 522 people are spreading is that this labeling law will cost tons of money for the companies and then they'll pass that cost along to the consumer. And the truth is, adding the sticker will not cost that much money for the companies.

And the companies admitted that it's not the sticker that will cost them. What will cost them more money is changing their ingredients.

The fact that this law will force you to change your ingredients means that you're admitting that you don't want to eat the stuff they're putting in our food. And the second we know it, we're going to go buy the organic stuff instead.

Taken from the Wednesday edition of The Andrew Walsh Show.

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