Local Yakima Farmers Share Their Thoughts on I-522 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local Yakima Farmers Share Their Thoughts on I-522

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YAKIMA, WA. -- There are some important issues on the November ballot but none that have seen as much campaign spending as Initiative 522.

I-522 would require that farmers label foods that have been genetically modified. Both sides have raised millions of dollars for their efforts.

Signs urging a vote on Initiative 522 line many streets in Yakima telling drivers to vote one way or another. At NBC Right Now, we wanted to see what farmers in the area have to say about labeling genetically modified foods.

"More information to the consumer," Marritt Mitchell-Wajeeh, a Squash farmer said.

That's what Marritt Mitchell-Wajeeh says is the basic notion behind Initiative 522.

"I think that labeling is a good thing," Wajeeh says.

She believes in giving consumers the ability to choose for themselves. Marritt has her own children in mind when supporting I-522.

"I am worried about their long term health," Wajeeh said. "When you're adding information into the genetic code of a plant that's existed for thousands of years, what do we know? what's going to happen?"

She understands the Initiative will require the re-labeling of products but that isn't anything new.

"We're always having to modify based upon new regulations that come down from the federal government, state level, that sort of things, so we're always changing," Wajeeh said.

"I'm all for people knowing what they buy," hops farmer Dan Newhouse said.

But Dan Newhouse, a third generation hops farmer, doesn't believe the benefits of labeling outweigh the costs.

"We are trying to compete with farmers in other states," Newhouse said. "It raises our costs of production and we lose efficiencies and it makes it difficult to stay in business."

He is confident that genetically modified foods are safe.

"Hundreds of studies over the last 20 years by a myriad of different groups say they're safe so there's no real benefit to putting us through all this stuff," Newhouse said.

Dan and Merritt agree that people should research this complex topic themselves to make an informed decision.

A huge amount of money has been spent on this Initiative. The Yes side has raised more than $6 million while the No side broke a state record with over $21 million, the most spent on any Initiative in state history.