‘Shallow concern’ over GM food, not Big Ag advertising, led to defeat of Washington labeling bill

yes on i
via Organicconsumers.org

Anti-GMO activists blame timing and big money for Washington’s failed GMO labeling bill I-522, and while these things may have played a role, Grist’s Nathanael Johnson writes that in reality, “perhaps..fewer people care about GM food than it seems.”

One poll found that 93 percent of Americans favor GMO labeling, “but half of the people questioned…weren’t aware that GMOs were already widely dispersed in processed foods,” suggesting that this was the first they were hearing of the debate. In previous polls, “GMOs had come in sixth out of six potential problems with the food supply.”

In September, the Yes on I-522 campaign had a 45 percent lead, but after opposition ads started to air in October, that lead dropped to just 4 percent. While many economists claim that political spending does not sway public opinion, in this case advertising was able to change the minds of voters who hadn’t “fully committed” to either viewpoint, suggesting that widespread concern about GMOs “doesn’t seem to be deep-seated.”

Low voter turn-out may have been a factor in the bill’s failure. According to Stuart Elway, president of the Seattle-based polling company Elway Research, the measure was winning among infrequent voters, which led Johnson to speculate whether a higher voter turn-out would have affected the results. Either way, those voters “couldn’t be bothered to vote this time.” It seems that “GMOs aren’t driving people to the polls.”

“This was a solution looking for a problem,” said Elway, “People were not highly agitated about GMO labeling.”

Read the full, original story here: Washington’s GMO labeling flop, two weeks later: What it means

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