The genetically modified food debate across Washington State is getting messy. Initiative 522 would require most genetically engineered foods to be labeled. With ballots being mailed out this week, both sides are trying to leave the right taste with the voters.
This initiative would require genetically engineered food to be labeled by July 1, 2015.
The initiative would exempt alcoholic beverages, certified organic foods, medicine and food served at restaurants.
Right now, there are no federal regulations for GMO labeling.
"It would require food companies for just Washington, to have to remake their food, in order to avoid placing a warning label on it, when you have to remake the food with non-GE (genetically engineered) ingredients," said Dana Bieber, who is against I-522.
The Washington Research Council estimates this would cost the average family at least an extra $450 a year because the price of food would go up to meet the regulations.
But those in support of I-522 don't believe that claim. They point out that the opposition group actually paid for the study that suggests food prices will go up.
"The no side bought and paid for that Washington Research Council study, they spent tens of thousands of dollars, paying for two studies that it would cost consumers based on hypothetically scenarios," said Elizabeth Larter, who supports I-522.
Both sides say the other is misleading.
"American manufacturers actually already label this information and they sell these products to 64 overseas markets, why don't they do it here?" said Larter.
"The proponents like to talk about other countries, but you have to remember under initiative 522, it's 1/50th of a country, it's placing a regulatory and litigation burden on our farmers and food producers," said Bieber.
Several northeastern states have recently approved GMO labeling but those laws will only be implemented if other states pass similar measures.