I-522 Failing, But Not Dead…Yet
With a few days left of ballot counting, supporters of the controversial food-labeling initiative are holding out hope.
According to the most recently released election returns from very late Tuesday night and some early Wednesday, the margin of defeat is still hovering around 55% for I-522. The bill would have created a separate food labeling system just for Washington state.
Supporters said it was necessary to inform consumers about GMO’s, or genetically modified foods. They cite European countries who banned such foods years ago. Those against the bill said nearly 70% of processed foods sold in stores for decades are genetically modified in some form or another, and there are already federal standards for labeling. They also said it would cost millions of dollars, increase prices, and create new Washington state bureaucracy that taxpayers would have to support with higher food prices.
Initially in the campaign many weeks ago, I-522 fared well in polls. But a huge barrage of ads paid for by numerous major food producers helped turn the tide. In addition, the No on I-522 campaign was successful in hammering home the costs and expenses of the measure and included numerous references to studies. A number of former respected state officials, including former agriculture directors and attorney’s generals appeared in ads.
With nearly one million ballots counted, according to the Bellingham Herald, I-522 was trailing in early counts by nearly 100,000 votes, the Seattle Times reports as of very late last night the measure was trailing in all but 4 counties. Not surprisingly, the measure was winning in King County.
While tens of thousands of ballots still have to be counted, many political experts believe the margin is just too big to make up.
A similar proposal was defeated last year in California.