Poll: Not clear which way GMO labeling vote will go




Posted on October 22, 2013 at 7:40 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 22 at 9:20 AM

Two weeks before ballots are counted, a new KING 5 News poll finds voters are leaning toward approving new rules to label genetically engineered foods. But there are enough undecided voters that it could go either way.

Voters will decide on Initiative 522 whether most raw and processed foods, seeds and seed stocks should have a genetically engineered label.

The poll of 546 likely Washington state voters, conducted by SurveyUSA, found 45 percent say they are certain to vote yes while 38 percent are certain to vote no. Sixteen percent say they are not certain.

Support is strongest among younger voters while older voters oppose the measure. I-522 appears to be passing in Seattle and running about 50/50 in the rest of the state.

Both sides have spent millions of dollars on ads. It was a coalition of Eastern Washington farmers, small businesses and parents who put together the measure. They want more transparency on what's in foods.

Opponents argue I-522 would force expensive and misleading labeling of genetically engineered food that doesn’t exist in other states. They believe the current system of organic labeling works and is informative.

"Businesses are going to be forced to remake the food. So, it's not about relabeling. It's about remaking and that's where the cost comes in. That's where we get to $450 a year for customers,” said Dana Bieber, No on 522 Coalition spokesperson.

"One, it's not going to cost shoppers a dime. Two, the studies they cite are completely false and misleading. They're assuming shoppers are going to go to an all organic diet, which is totally unfeasible and unseen in the 64 other countries that label for GMOs," said Elizabeth Larter, Yes on 522 spokesperson.

One thing both sides do agree on is that 70-to-80 percent of grocery products are made with genetically engineered ingredients. Those are mainly corn, canola and soy, which are in many foods.

This poll question had a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.

Other findings in the poll:

  • Most Washington voters would vote no (45 percent to 32 percent) on a measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, if they had the chance. Twenty-two percent remain undecided. Such a measure is currently on the ballot in SeaTac.
  • Pres. Barack Obama has a 44 percent job approval and 47 percent disapproval rating among Washington voters.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee has a 44 percent approval and 31 percent disapproval rating.
  • Forty-six percent of Washington voters disapprove of the job their own member of the U.S. House of Representatives is doing. Twenty-seven percent approve.
  • Both Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell have higher approval than disapproval ratings, but both their approval ratings are under 50 percent.
  • Washington voters blame Republicans in Congress (42 percent) more than Pres. Obama (32 percent) for the government shutdown. Twenty-three percent blame both.