Washington Voting Down Initiative 522 to Label GMO Foods
Washington state voters on Tuesday appear to have rejected an initiative that would have required foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled.
The vote was 54.8 percent opposed to labeling and 45.2 percent in favor of it, USA Today reported. The figures represent about a quarter of the state’s 3.9 million registered voters, but not all of the votes have been counted, Politico reported this morning.
Washington is a mail-in ballot state, and it will count any ballots postmarked by Nov. 5, even if those ballots arrive at the end of the week. As a result, the tally on election night often only reflects about 60 percent of the votes that ultimately will be received, Brian Zylstra, a spokesman for Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State, told Politico.
Initiative 522 would have made the state the first in the nation to require such labeling.
Opponents of the measure, backed by Monsanto and other large agribusinesses, outspent proponents by a ratio of nearly 3-to-1, making the initiative campaign the costliest in state history. The No on 522 campaign brought in $22 million in donations, and the top five contributors were the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience.
The largest donor to the pro-labeling campaign were California-based Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. However the initiative garnered almost 30 percent of its funding from individuals in Washington state, the Seattle Times reported.
Rep. Cary Condotta (R-East Wenatchee) and a co-chair of the “Yes” campaign, told the Seattle Times there is an upside to the election—90 percent of Washington residents now know what genetically engineered foods are. “The movement continues,” he said.
Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food, supporters contend.
"Sooner or later, one of these is going to pass. It's only a matter of time. At some point the industry is going to get tired of pouring this kind of money into these campaigns," Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, told USA Today.
She said she doesn't believe there's anything dangerous about genetically engineered foods but is concerned about corporate control of the food supply.
The Food and Drug Administration does not require foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled because it considers them "functionally equivalent" to conventionally grown crops.
Visit EcoWatch’s GMO page for more related news on this topic.
By Jacob Wallace
This story is published as part of StudentNation's "Vision 2020: Election Stories From the Next Generation" reports from young journalists that center the concerns of diverse young voters. In this project, working with Dr. Sherri Williams, we recruited young journalists from different backgrounds to develop story ideas and reporting about their peers' concerns ahead of the most important election of our lives. We'll continue publishing two stories each week over the course of September.
In the speech she gave at the People's Climate March in Washington in 2017, Jansikwe Medina-Tayac, then 15, told a crowd of thousands, "This [climate change] is not just an environmental issue. This is a race issue, this is an immigration issue, this is a feminist issue."
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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