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Poll: GMO Labeling Initiative ‘Too Close to Call’ in Washington State

Initiative 522 opponents in Washington State have apparently shifted some voters against the ballot measure to require labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The state’s only independent, non-partisan survey research firm, known as the Elway Poll, says its Oct. 15-17 interviews with 413 registered Washington State voters found there’s been a dramatic 41-percent shift since last month in opinions about the ballot measure. Support for I-522 has gone down by 20 percent and opposition has grown by 21 percent.

Elway reports I-522 proponents are clinging to a narrow 46-to-42 percent lead, with 12 percent of the voters still undecided. Pollster Steward Elway said the election is now within the “margin of error,” which, in this poll, is 5 percent.

This means I-522 in Washington State is now officially “too close to call.”

The “No on 522″ campaign, with contributions from agricultural and food giants such as Monsanto and Dupont, has raised nearly three times as much money as initiative proponents ($17.2 million and $6.1 million, respectively). The GMO labeling issue is easily dominating election advertising in the state’s off-year, all-mail-ballot election.

The shift in momentum comes even though the state had to force the anti-522 side to disclose the actual source of contributions it was getting through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). Pepsi, Coke, and Nestle each sent the “No” campaign $1 million through GMA’s fund for defending brands.

The “No” campaign, however, has benefited from favorable editorial support from most of the state’s major newspapers and a supportive report from the official state Academy of Sciences. “No” campaign spokesmen say the more voters learn about I-522, the more likely they are to oppose it.

After enduring a month of seemingly unending paid advertising against I-522, the “Yes” campaign remains hopeful because its side is still ahead and has enough money to keep its “right to know” ads on the air.

Still, the Elway Poll results raise the possibility that I-522 could end up being a repeat of last year’s Proposition 37 campaign in California. Prop 37 also started out with a commanding lead, only to end up being narrowly defeated after going up against better-funded opposition that succeeded in getting its message through to voters.

© Food Safety News
  • mem_somerville

    It really is looking much more like Prop37 that I expected. I was quite surprised to see all the newspapers come down on “no”.

    • JohnJ

      I wish it was more of a surprise that your newspapers follow what big money wants. Besides inundating all your media with advertisements and the pressure of being the big advertisers, they and other moneyed elites which share the same rapacious world view also have some ownership in most of the media.

      • CriticalThinker

        They targeted farmers in eastern WA with the anti 522 campaign. They bought the ‘increased costs and bureaucracy’ baloney. Of course, many of these folks believe anything agri-business tells them. Don’t they recall that theyve grown and sold non GMO crops for many decades before and made a living doing so ? In the meantime their loved ones get cancer and they have no idea why (which includes many factors in the environment including GMOs).

        • John

          Yes by all means call the farmers stupid… you probably think of them as a bunch of dumb hicks from Eastern Washington… The fact is that farmers know that GMO crops save them money it has nothing to do with being tricked or duped.

  • farmber

    with an endless supply of food industry dollars to draw upon, Monsanto and friends are well-protected….

  • Jacqueline Steffen

    Press Release by European Network of Scientists for Social & Environmental Responsibility
    Oct 21, 2013
    There is no scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified foods and crops, according to a statement released today by an international group of more than 90 scientists, academics and physicians.[1]

    The statement comes in response to recent claims from the GM industry and some scientists, journalists, and commentators that there is a “scientific consensus” that GM foods and crops were generally found safe for human and animal health and the environment. The statement calls these claims “misleading”, adding, “This claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist.”

    This statement is released by ENSSER the week after the World Food Prize was awarded to employees of the GM seed giants Monsanto and Syngenta. This award has provoked outrage worldwide and stands in stark contrast to recent rulings in several countries restricting or banning the field release or commercialisation of certain GM crops. These include 9 countries in Europe and Mexico, but also developing countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, India where an indefinite moratorium on field release trials was recommended by the Technical Expert Committee of the Supreme Court unless certain conditions are met including proper safety testing. [2, 3, 4, 5] Furthermore, GMO approvals are under legal challenge in Argentina and Brazil due to questions over the scientific basis of approvals. [6] Most if not all of them underline the lack of proof of safety and insufficient testing.

    http://www.independentsciencenews.org/news/no-scientific-consensus-on-safety-of-genetically-modified-organisms/

  • Evy

    People need to read more about Montsanto and Dupont on there mission to control the seed industry. Read about Michael Taylor and the conflict of interest working for Montsanto AND the FDA. Don’t just believe the media….do your own research…be smart. GMO foods have problems…why would you want to take a chance and feed them to your family and let Montsanto and others take over our food supply until someday we will have no choice of what is in our food… Scary….

  • Nick

    there is a reason chemical giants Monsanto and DuPont want this to fail. The facts remain, there is not enough evidence that gmo foods will not harm people in the long run. If you read this vote yes, and that way at least we know what food we’re feeding our children.

    • CriticalThinker

      I don’t like the ‘right to know’ campaign strategy; it was a weak approach in my opinion. If there is strong evidence that GMO is harmful (and there is) put that information out there. Give people the reason Why they should have the ‘right to know’.

  • Joshua Petersen

    I voted yes, and I’ll stand firm by that. I studied post-grad bioinformatics in college, have worked in the high-tech biology field, as well as studying political philosophy. Honestly, a yes on 522 is one of the best things that could happen to America.

    As weird as it sounds, a yes on 522 could actually start turning around the recession for reasons too complicated to go into here.

    • CriticalThinker

      Anyone who looks at the facts for themselves can see that GMOs are a health hazard that should be banned. I agree with Jon Rappoport who has done considerable investigative reporting of the medical fields. The ‘right to know’ is a weak campaign strategy. That strategy failed in CA and could very likely fail in WA state. (webseach Jon Rappoports blog and search GMO there). Given the current state of election results tabulation (no audit trail) it takes an overwhelming vote to get past the barriers in place. The anti GMO interests have poured millions into the campaign. Their ‘high extra costs and bureaucracy’ message has resonated with those who don’t know about GMO hazards.
      The resources and volunteer time could be better spent educating people on the dangers of GMOs. There are labels on cigarettes, but people still smoke.

      Even if this bill doesn’t pass – - – people need to work to inform others about GMO.

  • Gina

    It’s going to go like Prop 37 what a horror humans are.

  • FB in the D

    Scary that elections can just be bought because a majority of people are incapable of doing their own thinking. Perhaps it’s the effect of all those pesticide toxins and kinky genes in the food?

    • crzycatldy

      You are exactly right – most voters don’t engage a single brain cell before casting a ballot. Disgusting. Why anyone would be against the right to know what you are buying is beyond me.

  • MsMag

    Please, Washington State, do not let us down. Please vote YES to label this poison!!! Don’t let the tens of millions of dollars from the biotechs buy your election, too!

  • hayley

    I voted yes and convinced my grandmother to as well : D Screw Monsanto.

  • LoriBabcock

    The biggest reason I oppose GMO’s has to do with the spraying of insecticides that can be increased on Round-Up ready plants. And the fact that the same company owns the patent on the seed and the insecticide is a bit disturbing, unless they are prepared to foot the bill for all the illnesses caused in the years to come. But since we know they are not on the hook, then we should not let these chemicals be sprayed all over our food supply. How can growing food be the second or third largest polluting process known in USA? We are polluting the water supply for many years to come with chemicals not naturally found in water. We know from past experiences that many of the chemicals used in farming have had very serious health effects. So YES , we need to label, at least give us the choice.