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What is I-522?

Yesterday, I interviewed a mom who is concerned about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). She explained that there is no way to know whether the food you purchase may include GMOs unless it is certified organic. In Washington state, Initiative 522 would require labeling for foods produced through genetic engineering. 

Providing consumers with information about the foods they eat seems like common sense. However, I-522 has already been met with controversy especially from the state's wheat growers. I wanted to hear from a local farm, so I asked Dan Hulse from Tahoma Farms for his thoughts on GMOs and I-522.
Henry loves finding his favorite foods in our weekly produce delivery from Terra Organics.

In 2003, Dan and his wife Kim formed Terra Organics an organic produce delivery service. They have been small family farmers since 2004. In 2009, the couple purchased a 40-acre farm in Orting, WA known as Tahoma Farms. The farm and Terra Organics sell organic produce locally to restaurants, grocery stores, schools and over 1,000 households in Pierce and King Counties. 
*I have been a Terra Organics costumer since 2008.

1. Why is the topic of GMOs important to small, organic farms like Tahoma Farms?
It's an important consumer issue, mostly. It doesn't affect farms like ours because GMO seed is not allowed in organic production.

2. Is cross-pollination from GMO crops a big concern?
No, because we don't have neighboring farms growing GM crops. It's a bigger issue for farms in the mid-west and eastern Washington that are growing non-GMO corn, wheat, and soybeans. They are at-risk of having their non-GMO crops contaminated by GMO crops from neighboring farms. The thing is, GMO crops dominate the landscape; I would guess they are present on 90 to 95 percent of farms that are not organic.

3. What do you think consumers should know about GMOs?
We have a right to know what's in our food and make a decision about whether we want to eat GMO foods or not.

4. What can we do about GMOs?
Continue to push for labeling in Washington state and other states that may see this issue on the ballot. It failed in California because of big corporate interests protecting their profits at the cost of transparency and public disclosure.

I-522 is currently under consideration by the state legislature. If they do not approve this measure during the current legislative session, then it will be put to a public vote in November. If I-522 passes, Washington would be the first state in the United States to require GMO labeling. Similar initiatives were defeated in California in 2012 and in Oregon in 2002.

I plan to continue following this issue throughout the year, so please stay tuned for further posts about the status of I-522.


  1. Great topic! I see no reason to oppose I-522. As simple as our right to know what we're eating. Like this farmer said, disclosure!

    1. I agree that I-522 seems like a positive step to improving public disclosure. I think the main issue will be in how it is implemented. As with any new policy, the key is to reduce potential unintended consequences. I am planning to interview a few other small farmers and producers to get their take on this Initiative as well.

  2. Ugh, feeding your family should not be so complicated! I just learned about GMOs, luckily just before my daughter started eating solids, and now I'm working on eliminating them from everything we eat. For now she only eats organic/non-GMO, but I hope to have the household completely converted soon.

    1. You're right; it should be easier to make good food choices for our families. Keeping up with all the latest information is a full-time task.


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