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Thoughts on Initiative 522

posted Nov 5, 2013, 12:20 AM by Douglas County Democrats

(Bob Anderson shared this paper with the general membership at the October 2013 meeting, after which we enjoyed a lively discussion on the topic.  Thank you, Bob, for your extensive knowledge and insight.)

Initiative 522


Persuasive reasons for passage

 1.      Transparency is a hallmark of democracy. We have the right to know what our children are being taught in school, the side effects of medications our physician wants us to take, the transcripts of media encounters with our politicians, and on and on. Secrets are limited to matters of personal privacy and national security. This proposed law does not prevent sale of GMO foods. It only requires them to be labeled. Organic foods are already so labeled now.

2.      Genetically engineered foods are not accepted in numerous nations around the world. Complete bans exist in Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, France, Madeira, Switzerland, India and Thailand, and complete or partial bans exist in three counties in California and one state in Australia. These are not backward nations. They have the same concerns as the backers of 522.

3.      Medical and Scientific issues. GMO crops contain molecules inserted into the seed line to resist damage from pesticides, thus allowing larger amounts of pesticides and herbicides to be used (e.g. Roundup-Ready seeds). Pesticides have been repeatedly associated with a greater incidence of certain cancers over the last fifty years. Research has not shown any evidence that insertion of molecules from another species will not result in an increase of allergic reactions to the new combination. Global Research reported a study in April,2013, that showed that GMO grains contain greatly reduced levels of vital mineral nutrients compared to non-GMO foods. GMO corn, for instance, contained scarcely any potassium or magnesium and greatly reduced amounts of calcium and manganese (44 to 7-fold lower). GMO grains have greater amounts of gluten, the source of a growing wave of disease concerns, such as detrimental brain effects including Ataxia of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease.

4.      A side issue is the control of the world seed market. Monsanto Corporation’s subsidiary, Seminis, Inc., controls much of the world seed market with its production of “terminator seeds” which are devoid of the reproductive germ portion necessary for replanting for next year’s crops. Third World countries will not be able to replant from their own seed crops, but only by purchasing Monsanto’s seeds.


Responding to the arguments for voting against 522.

 1.      Existing labeling standards are sufficient. I have not seen any label which has told me that the corn I purchase is Genetically Modified, but the likelihood that they do is 88%.

2.      The costs of extra labeling would be enormous. Ridiculous, labels are now required on most foods at present and are changed frequently.

3.      Vulnerable farmers and food suppliers would be subject to enormous lawsuits. Nonsense. Not if they cooperated with the labeling process.

4.      “All Washington farmers would incur increased production costs.” Wrong. The only cost would be the relabeling of what they sell.

5.      Much of the funding for anti-522 publicity comes from out of state, including the Monsanto Corp.

Bob Anderson MD