This guest post is by Elizabeth Larter, a spokeswoman for Yes on 522, a campaign to label certain genetically modified foods.

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So you may have missed it—because, honestly, who in their right mind is living and breathing political elections in an off-year?—but the Seattle Times editorialized against I-522. The Stranger is kind to let me, communications director for Yes on 522, debunk the Seattle Times’ poorly written and not-fully-sensical editorial. Yes on 522 is the ballot initiative trying to give you more information about the groceries you are buying and eating. That’s right. More transparency at the grocery store. While we, the Yes campaign, think more information is a good thing, apparently the Seattle Times thinks it is a bad idea. Instead, they suggest you, me and 6.8 million Washingtonians go “start a garden.”

Yes, they really suggested that if you want GMOs labeled or don’t want to eat them, you make a stronger point “by buying organic or starting a garden.” Who can afford organic all the time? Not me. And organic is only 4 percent of the available food out there, so not everything I want to eat is available organic. It is insulting and mystifying that they made that comment when growing a garden or buying exclusively organic is just not an option for the majority of Washingtonians.

The Seattle Times Editorial Board ignored this point: I-522 levels the playing field. It allows every Washingtonian – no matter where you live or what you make – to be informed about your food. Moms on WIC (Women, Infants & Children) can’t buy organic so how are they supposed to know if what they are feeding their kids is genetically engineered or not? Yes on 522 would ensure all of us have access to this info—not just people who live in urban areas or can afford it.

And on the “start a garden” point: if every Washingtonian started a garden, what would the farmers do? Wouldn’t that put some of them out of job—the very farmers that the No side is claiming I-522 hurts (Crosscut fact checked this as false, btw). Talk about insensitive!

The Seattle Times editorial board also goes into a diatribe about how it’s a warning label. Apparently, No on 522 did help write this editorial. Those arguments are pretty much what I hear from the opposition at every debate. I-522’s labels aren’t a warning label but a couple of words on the front of the package to let you know what you are buying. Is gluten-free a warning label? Is fat, sugar, sodium, or artificial flavorings warning labels? You know what is a warning label, this on cigarettes.

That is a warning label:

warning_label.jpg
  • Via Yes on 522

But, I digress. I-522 is about information. More information for you and me to decide—not some out-of-state corporations keeping us in the dark about what’s in our food. More independent and transparent research should be done. And why not provide a label so everyone can have a choice if they want to buy gmos? People have the right to know if our foods were genetically engineered just like we know if our fish are farm-raised or wild-caught.

What is most important –and what the Seattle Times ed board totally missed—is that I-522 is about having a choice at the grocery store. Without labels we just don’t know what’s in our food. Labels give us all more information so we can make the best grocery shopping decisions for ourselves.

*** Author’s note: Seattle Times editorial completely neglects to mention that the No campaign is bought and paid ($17 Million) for by five out-of-state pesticide companies that reap profits from—what do you know—selling more pesticides. Oh and one DC-based lobbying group who is hiding its members from full campaign finance disclosure because they are afraid of the brand backlash.