OLYMPIA, Wash.—Washington state Senate and House bills that would require labeling on foods that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were unable to move beyond committee this year, according to Jason Callahan, legislative assistant to Washington state Rep. Cary Condotta, sponsor of one of the bills.
“There was a lot of interest in this issue,” said Callahan. “We got a ton of emails, phone calls,” he said, from people showing support for the bills. These bills may take time to gain momentum and wider support and awareness, he said, and predicted that this issue will have potential in the next session and the years to come.
“We are going to be introducing this bill again next year. It’s an idea whose time has come, and we will continue to pursue it until it becomes the law,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, sponsor of the other bill.
According to the website of Organic Consumer’s Association (OCA), a grass-roots public interest organization, the bills’ opponents say that implementing labeling would be too costly for the state and that it would interfere with federal laws that govern interstate commerce.
OCA also stated that a number of Washington state representatives and senators didn’t even know of the bills’ existence and they may choose to be sponsors for the coming session.
The United States and Canada do not have federal laws that require labels on GE foods, but 50 other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan, label GE foods, according to labelgmos.org, a website for the Committee for the Right to Know, a grass-roots coalition that created a campaign for a California ballot initiative to label GMOs in food.