As Washington State prepares to vote on an initiative to label genetically modified food on November 5, a panel of experts joined HuffPost Live to break down the key issues in the debate. The vote has attracted national attention from industrial food producers, local farmers, and concerned consumers, as the state stands to become just the fourth in the country to allow GMO labeling.
Gary Hirshberg, the chairman of the Just Label It campaign, Michael Moyer, a special projects editor at Scientific American, and Lewis Kamb, a Seattle Times reporter, talked about various topics in the GMO debate, from the impact on consumer choice to the effect of GMOs on public health.
One of the main arguments for the initiative is that such labeling would increase consumer awareness and allow for better informed decisions. Moyer, however, argued that similar policies in Europe have had the opposite effect. "[GMO labels] become a de facto warning label for people," Moyer said. "What ends up happening is that then those foods are taken off of store shelves and consumers are left with a reduced amount of choice at the end of the day."
Moyer also explained that recent scientific studies have shown that GMOs are just as safe as other foods.
For Hirshberg, though, the most damaging argument against genetically modified crops is that their introduction has gone hand in hand with the increased use of chemicals in our agriculture. "From my vantage point, the argument is very simple," Hirshberg said. "Since the introduction of these crops, we've seen an explosion in the use of herbicides in this country. Promises were made back in the 90s by these companies that have simply not held true."
Watch the video above for the rest of the conversation and to find out how this initiative along with pending legislation in other states may eventually impact federal policy.