Seattleites rally in support for labeling genetically modified food

Seattleites rally in support for labeling genetically modified food
SEATTLE -- A fight over food sent scores of people into the streets of Seattle Wednesday trying to gain support for I-522, which would require food suppliers, like grocery stores, to label any genetically modified food.

"I just want to have that information so that I can feed good foods to my family," said organizer Carin Chase.

Chase says since laws already require labels for things like sugar and sweeteners and natural and artificial flavors, "we also have the right to know if the food has been genetically engineered."

But Dana Bieber, with the "Vote No on I-522" campaign, says it's about misleading consumers.

She says labeling of all those fruits and veggies would drive-up grocery bills, "by hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year."

She adds the 'no' campaign has the support of the agriculture heavyweights, including the Washington Farm Bureau, because of what those extra costs might do to them.

"They get hit hard by Initiative 522 and that's why they're overwhelmingly opposed to this," Bieber said.

Commercial sales of genetically-modified foods began back in the 1990s as a way to protect produce from disease and keep it fresher, longer. Scientific study after scientific study find no harmful effects.

"We've been eating it for decades," Bieber said.

And Bieber argues organic foods labels do enough informing already about which foods are modified and which aren't.

Still, 64 countries around the world require grocery stores to label any food that has been altered.

"It's about transparency and having all the information," Chase said.

She wonders, why not require it in the Pacific Northwest?

Initiative 522 does have the backing of several major food companies like Ben and Jerry's and Whole Foods. I-522 doesn't call for labels on all foods such as restaurant or any meats or delivery pizzas. It would require labels at grocery stores.