Phonebanking Talking Points FAQs

Important: While many of us have worked on raising awareness about GMOs for years, it’s mission-critical to know that most people, almost all likely Washington voters, are not as familiar with GMOs and will make a decision based on limited information. They will be easily confused by the oppositions misleading attacks that this hurts farmers, creates unnecessary government oversight, and will cause frivolous lawsuits. It’s imperative that we communicate that I-522 is about information and transparency. These conversations might be the ONLY chance to answer questions and communicate these carefully crafted, rigorously tested responses.

If you have questions you can’t answer or need reinforcements, please send an email to the below address or call the campaign hotline immediately so we can call the person back or respond in a timely matter.

Email:         Hotline: (206) 384-3371

Primary Message frames to keep re-iterating to voters:

  • We have a right to know important information about the food we eat and feed our families – such as sugar and sodium levels, whether flavors are natural or artificial, and if salmon is wild or farm-raised. We should also have the right to choose whether we want to buy and eat genetically engineered food.
  • Labeling genetically engineered food is about transparency and empowering shoppers. Just give me the information and I can trust myself to make my own decisions.
  • When it comes to grocery shopping, labels give you more control of your shopping decisions and the ability to make your own decisions.


Question: Why is labeling important? Why this initiative?

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Answer: Labeling is common sense. Washington shoppers have the right to know what’s in their food. Our food is already labeled with abundant nutritional information including sugar and sodium. U.S. companies already label genetically engineered foods in 64 countries that have labeling laws. They should provide the same information to American consumers that they do for international consumers. Initiative 522 will give every Washingtonian the information they need to make an informed decision on whether they want to buy and eat genetically engineered food.

Question: But won’t this be costly to Washington shoppers? The opposition is saying it will cost hundreds of dollars a year. Is this true?

Answer: Food companies re-label soda cans and cereal boxes all the time and it doesn’t affect cost. We already include labels for sugar and fat content, ingredients and numerous other things, so there would be no cost in labeling genetically engineered foods. It also gives companies a grace period of 18 months to cycle in a packaging change.

Question: The opposition has multiple studies showing that there are no health risks with GMOs. Why do we need a label if there are no health concerns?

Answer: How food is grown or where it comes from isn’t providing information about health concerns, it’s simply information so shoppers can make their own decisions when buying their groceries. Just as we label whether foods have artificial flavors, how much sugar and sodium they have, and whether fish is wild or farmraised, we should label genetically engineered foods. I522 let’s individual shoppers decide what’s right for them.
It’s just common sense.

Question: But if the AMA, the FDA, and hundreds of doctors and scientists say it’s safe, wouldn’t labels just frighten and confuse consumers?

Answer: These labels are about providing more information so Washington shoppers can make the best choice for themselves and their families. There have been no long-term studies on GMO foods and the FDA requires no safety assessments. We have the right to know whether our food has been genetically engineered. Once we have that information, we can make our own decision about what’s best for us on whether or not we want to eat GMOs.

Question: I’ve heard that some foods are exempt from I-522 but others are not. Why is that?

Answer: I-522 is an important first step in giving shoppers the information they need to make informed decisions about the groceries they buy and feed their families. When Washingtonians go to the supermarket, they will have more control over their shopping decisions. I-522 conforms to common labeling standards for our groceries. It’s just like how we label frozen pizza, but your local pizzeria doesn’t label your pizza’s nutritional content. I-522 is about giving shoppers more information at the grocery store.

If you want to add more:

And by the way, many of the same interests opposing I522 today were making these same overblown claims when Europe was considering labeling and none of their dire predictions came to pass in the 10 plus years they have had labeling.

Question: Won’t this hurt farmers and our multi-billion agricultural industries?

Answer: It’s simply not true that this will hurt farmers. In fact, hundreds of Washington farmers support labeling because they believe shoppers have a right to know what’s in the groceries they buy. Connecticut, Maine and Alaska have passed labeling, and dozens of other states are considering labeling laws. Sixty-four countries already require labeling, so many farmers are already used to labeling for exports.

OR, if you need an additional exports-related talking point:

64 countries require labeling of genetically engineered foods. U.S. producers have no problems providing the information abroad, so there is no good reason they can’t do the same here in the U.S.