Voters in Washington, US, last week voted against I-522, a proposal that would have required food and beverage manufacturers to label products that are made with genetically engineered or modified (GMO) ingredients.

The vote was brought to the Washington state ballot by anti-GMO activists as part of their ongoing national efforts to have labels for food products containing genetically engineered crops. A similar measure, the California Proposition 37, was rejected last November.

President and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Pamela G. Bailey said: “We are pleased that the voters of Washington State rejected I-522 by a significant margin. I-522 was a complex and costly proposal that would have misled consumers, raised the price of groceries for Washington families and done nothing to improve food safety.”

She highlighted that the rejection of the I-552 proposal is an “important development” in the industry’s effort to provide consumers with safe and affordable food.

"The food and beverage industry is committed to providing consumers with a wide array of safe and affordable food and beverage choices. Genetically modified food ingredients (GMOs) are safe, good for the environment, reduce the cost of food and help feed a growing global population of seven billion.”

Ms Bailey added that the GMA will continue to campaign for the setting of national standards for the “safety and labelling of products made with GMO ingredients”.

“Our country’s labelling laws have been and should continue to be based on health, safety and nutritional content. We will continue to oppose individual state efforts to impose mandatory labelling of products made with GMO technology, as well as advocate for the safe and effective use of this important technology to increase the food supply while lowering cost.

“And we will continue to engage in an informative dialogue with our consumers on the safety, prevalence and benefits of that technology,” she said.

FIA Chief Scientific Officer, Kim Leighton, agreed that the vote against the I-522 proposal on GMO labelling is a welcome development for the industry in the US.

“Food labels should provide consumers with accurate and relevant information that assists in making an informed choice. Ingredients derived from GM technology are assessed for safety and approved by regulators before being allowed in the marketplace. The i-522 proposal would have meant consumers would get less reliable information from I-522’s labels than they currently get from the free market and imposed new costs on local producers and businesses, which would have in turn negatively impacted consumers,” he said.

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