ballot initiative in washington regarding genetically engineered food and seeds results in litigation

by Tim Phillips

Up to 80 percent of non-organic products on grocery store shelves include genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Connecticut recently became the first state to pass a GE labeling law. In Washington state, residents will vote in November on a GE labeling initiative that would require retail food products and seed stocks that have been genetically engineered to be labeled. According to yesterday’s Bellingham Herald article, the upcoming Washington initiative has led to litigation:

More than a week ago activist lawyer Knoll Lowney made the first move. Acting on behalf of a newly formed group calling itself Moms for Labeling, Lowney filed a lawsuit against the No on 522 campaign committee, which was created with financing from national agribusiness interests to oppose Initiative 522. The suit sought to force No on 522 to disclose how much of the $2.2 million it got from the Grocery Manufacturers Association came from specific food-industry companies so that information would be put on the no campaign’s television ads.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and No on 522 campaign responded by filing a counterclaim seeking $10,000 in sanctions against Moms for Labeling. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham is expected to hold a phone conference with the parties this morning.

The No on 522 campaign has already raised $11.6 million from half a dozen out-of-state donors, including $4.8 million from Monsanto. Last November, a similar initiative failed in California after large chemical and pesticide companies spent more than $45 million to defeat it. Yet outside the U.S., 64 countries require labels for food or ingredients that have been genetically engineered.