The next stop on the GMO labeling train is Washington State. This time the person behind the measure is ad agency owner and vegan, Chris McManus who hails from Tacoma. He uses the word “dude.”
This dude was also a member of the Pierce County Ron Paul 2012 group. Paul voted against GMO labeling. McManus seems to consider himself a libertarian. Now that we got that out-of-the-way, on to the business at hand.
California’s Prop. 37’s definition of GMOs was pretty bad and this one is just as nonsensical. First the campaign’s definition of GMOs:
GMO foods, also known as genetically engineered foods are created by taking DNA from one species and forcing it into other unrelated species – mixing plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes in combinations that cannot occur in nature and are experimental.
In an article in the Seattle Weekly (SW) he is quoted as saying, “To put it in brass tacks, GMOs are something that you don’t see in nature: blue jays mating with mocking birds, dogs mating with cats.”
SW consulted experts in the field who basically said McManus got it wrong.
Gülhan Ünlü, a professor at the School of Food Science operated jointly by Washington State University and the University of Idaho, explains that genetic modification could involve combining desirable traits from different varieties of the same species.
When told about what the experts said, he responded by saying,
“Well, you know, I’m not a scientist. I work in media. Those kinds of questions I’ll have to defer to later in the campaign.”
Oh great. He’s sponsoring a proposed law about a subject he knows nothing about. But that hasn’t stopped the campaign making claims about the negative effects of GMOs without even having a basic understanding of the basics of GMOs. This is from the proposed law:
The genetic engineering of plants and animals is an imprecise process and often causes unintended consequences. Mixing plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes in combinations that cannot occur in nature produces results that are not always predictable or controllable, and can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.
The Spokesman-Review quotes McManus as saying the law was not meant to be a warning. “They’re not being warned, they’re being informed.
If the initiative wasn’t about scaring people, asked Heather Hansen of Washington Friends of Farms and Forests, why did supporters deliver their petitions in an old ambulance?
The law seems to borrow from Prop 37 in that activist echo chamber kind of way; very many of the same talking points. But, unlike California’s Prop. 37 , the process in Washington is little different. There are two ways to get an initiative accepted. One is to submit a petition to put the initiative on the ballot and have people directly vote on it. The other is to submit it to the state legislature and they vote on whether to adopt it into law without a popular vote. If they give it a thumbs down, it goes on the ballot of the next general election. OR, they can come up with their own measure and then both versions get placed on the ballot. The only restriction is it can’t be used to amend the state constitution.
The signatures also have to be verified by the secretary of state and only registered Washington voters may sign.
For whatever reason, McManus has chosen to go the legislative route rather than simply submit the law to a popular vote. The deadline for submitting the signatures was January 3rd and supporters delivered them on time.
On a related note, back in November, San Juan County, in Washington voted in a ban on GMOs. In a washingtonstatewire.com blog on 522, McManus was positive about their chances and pointed to the San Juan vote.
End Note: After the San Juan initiative passed, Marta Nielsen, a local organic farmer was quoted in the San Juan Journal saying “I’m proud to live in a county that could see the immense benefit of passing this forward-thinking initiative.”
Forward thinking? This coming from a woman who specializes in 1800s feces-based agriculture?