Washington Initiative 522: Yes, or no?

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Chances are that you've seen one or more of the television ads running either for or against Initiative-522 in Washington state. This screenshot comes from an ad produced for the "Yes on 522" campaign. (As seen on KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The campaigns for and against requiring labels on some genetically modified foods are drumming up near-record fundraising.

Because Washington’s GMO debate involves food, it is a hot-button issue. And a lot of money is being spent to spin it two different ways.

Those for the labeling requirement say “if it’s been genetically engineered , it has to say so … It’s that simple, and it won’t cost you a dime.”

Those against the labeling requirement say the effort “would cost taxpayers million for the added bureaucracy needed to enforce its regulations.”

In this case, Washington’s Office of Financial Management reports labeling “will cost” more than $3 million over six fiscal years.

So, who are voters supposed to believe?

“In every political campaign there’s some art and there’s some science,” said political strategist Dan Lavey.

Lavey said issues like GMO labeling, Initiative 522 in Washington state, almost always start with popular support for a consumer’s right to know.

“[W]e have a right to know if genetically engineered ingredients are being used in our food,” proponent Aaron Ostrom told CBS affiliate KIRO-TV in Seattle.

Opponents of I-522 then are pushing the message that the initiative — as written — is flawed, is unfair and will be unequally applied.

“Take the example of a steak,” 522 opponent Dana Bieber told KIRO-TV. “A steak will come from a cow that was fed [genetically engineered] grains. So there is GE in the steak [yet] it’s exempt from Initiative 522. That’s where we as consumers get mislead.”

To date, “No on 522″ has raised about $11.5  million. The proponents, “Yes on 522,” have raised about half that.

“The proponents have about a three-lane road they’re gonna run down,” said Lavey, who also works for Gallatin Public Affairs, “and the opponents have like a 12-lane freeway.”

In short, “Yes on 522″ backers say it’s all about truth and transparency. “No on 522″ backers claim it will cost jobs and money — about $450 more for the average family of four.

On the Net:

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