Food contents should be known

Washington residents will make their voices heard next month on Initiative 522, which would require food producers to label food that contains genetically modified organisms.

Some food producers use genetic engineering to make crops more resistant to pests or to lengthen a product’s shelf life, among other reasons. But controversy remains strong over whether genetically modified organisms are safe to eat, and whether it’s ethical to sell food without telling us it has been altered at such a base level.

Everyone has the right to know what’s in his or her food, good or bad. I-522 is the next logical step from the federal Nutritional and Educational Labeling Act of 1990, which required nutritional information to be displayed on food products.

Even fast-food restaurants display nutritional information on their websites. This can serve as a wake-up call for some people who don’t know how many calories, fat and sodium they’re actually consuming every day.

Eating organic food is one option, and grocery stores now devote entire sections to organic fruits, vegetables and even convenient boxed food like macaroni and cheese. But those products are often pricier than their non-organic counterparts, which can place them just out of reach for families on a tight budget.

The “No on 522” campaign, which is supported by North-Central Washington agencies such as the Okanogan County Farm Bureau, fear educating the public will be too costly to implement and therefore hurt farmers.

But as health care costs continue to rise, which affects everyone’s premiums, and diseases like Type II diabetes are on the rise, wouldn’t it be worth it in the long run to make everyone more aware of what they’re eating?

Vote yes on I-522.

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