With a vote on whether Washington should require labeling of genetically modified foods fast approaching, Washington lawmakers turned to the Washington State Academy of Sciences to learn more about GMOs and their possible impact.
On nutrition, the committee assigned to that task concluded that GMO foods are “substantially equivalent” to non-GMOs. The committee also found that there have been no documented adverse health effects from GMO foods. At the same time, it recommends continued monitoring for long-term effects.
Tom Marsh, an agricultural economist at Washington State University, co-chaired the committee tasked with evaluating key issues related to I-522, the initiative that would require labeling of genetically modified foods.
“Our role is to provide science-based information for the public so that more informed decisions can be made,” Marsh said.
Regarding costs associated with mandatory labeling, Marsh said they vary. And it’s not just the cost of labeling itself, but also the costs associated with keeping GMO products separate from non-GMO ones — from seed to production, and all the way to retail.
“And because many of our commodities are very homogenous, our systems have not been constructed to segregate in all of our crops,” he said. “That’s why there will be these additional segregation costs.”
The report does not make any recommendation on how the public should vote on I-522.