As we reported just after the turn of the new year, proponents of GMO labeling in Washington have already successfully gathered more than 350,000 petition signatures, exceeding the minimum number required by more than 100,000, to get I-522 on the 2013 ballot. This means Washington voters will have the opportunity this coming fall to vote in favor of the initiative which, if passed, will require that all foods produced using GMOs and sold within the state be properly labeled. (http://www.naturalnews.com)
And in the event that this initiative ends up getting railroaded like Proposition 37 did in California last fall, HB 1407 will allow local communities to decide for themselves how to handle both the labeling and cultivation of GMOs in their areas. Introduced by Representative Cary Condotta, a Republican from Washington's 12th District, HB 1407 specifically provisions that local governments will be free to regulate GMOs however they see fit, independently from whatever the state decides to do.
"When we saw San Juan do this, we thought it was great, so we see this on a different path than I-522 but we made sure to put a provision in HB 1407 that none of it would override I-522," explained Rep. Condotta about the proposed legislation, comparing it to the recent passage of Measure No. 2012-4, which banned the cultivation of GMOs in Washington's San Juan County. "So if the labeling bill passes, all food will still be labeled statewide. This just give the local level even more control."
HB 1407 would recognize right of local communities to label, ban GMOs
This two-pronged approach to GMO labeling is groundbreaking, as it addresses some of the failures of other GMO labeling proposals in other states. And particularly with HB 1407, the decentralization of power in matters relating to GMOs will help prevent corporate interests from hijacking efforts to increase food labeling transparency at the local level.
"It is within the jurisdiction of the local legislative authority to determine the parameters of regulation, which may include the production, use, advertising, sale, distribution, storage, transportation, formulation, packaging, labeling, certification, registration, propagation, cultivation, raising, or growing of genetically modified organisms," explains HB 1407.
Both bills are uniquely important because, together, they will procure the legal framework needed to ensure that the people of Washington, and not the biotechnology industry, are the ones calling the shots when it comes to GMO policy.
To learn more about I-522, visit: http://www.labelitwa.org/
To learn more about HB 1407, visit: http://apps.leg.wa.gov
Sources for this article include: