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Palouse voters’ debate scrutinizes I-522 labeling of genetically modified food

Palouse voters’ debate scrutinizes I-522 labeling of genetically modified food
COLFAX, WA - Now onto Washington's Initiative 522... Last week, KLEW News explained how it would change labeling requirements for genetically engineered or genetically modified foods if it passes in the November election.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin tells us about a heated I-522 debate on the Palouse Tuesday night.

The safety of genetically engineered food is a heated debate in itself.

"Science tells us that GE foods are safe and they help us feed the world," said Initiative 522 Opponent Jill Fagan.

"These are not natural breeding, they are not even animals or creations that could be created in a natural way on Earth," said Initiative 522 Proponent Ron Cully.

So when it comes passing an initiative that would require extra labeling for genetically engineered foods... sparks are bound to fly.

"There are no certification, inspections, or applications that are required to do this," said Cully. "It is very low cost and low burden, it is simply an honest and open disclosure by people who know."

"It is so burdensome to farmers, it opens them up to frivolous lawsuits," said Fagan. "522 is bad for Washington. It's bad for farmers, it's bad for food producers, it's bad for all of us."

According to the Washington Secretary of State, Initiative 522 accumulated more than 350,000 signatures. Those supporters say it's their right to know which foods are genetically modified.

"I-522 is about transparency so that you can decide what you put in your body, and so you can decide what you economically support," said Cully.

But opponents aren't buying that argument.

"Two-thirds of the foods that are supposed to be labeled end up getting exempted," said Fagan. "I don't know how that's about my right to know. 522 is going to mislead consumers."

Opponents say the exemptions will allow some genetically engineered foods to go unlabeled, and some non-genetically engineered foods to require labels. But supporters say the initiative follows the current exemption laws.

"The law, it has exemptions that are exactly the exemptions you see today, there are no differences," said Cully.

The Pullman League of Women Voters hosted this debate, and they're holding another voter forum Wednesday night in Pullman's City Hall at 7:00. All the candidates running for Pullman City Council are expected to attend.
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