Yakima's business community weighs in on I-522

Yakima's business community weighs in on I-522
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A roomful of business leaders listened as the Yes and No campaigns for I-522 made their case.

"522 is very carefully written to give you the right to know what's in the food that you buy in the grocery store," said State Senator Maralyn Chase, Co-Chair of Yes on 522.

Former State Senator Brian Murray -- who is part of the No on 522 Coalition -- disagreed. "It will not tell consumers what's in their food as far as GE content. It's inaccurate, inconsistent, and incomplete."

People in the audience seemed to find their messages incsufficient. Their hands shot up with questions. Sometimes in frustration.

"I'm not impressed by either of your numbers," said Tara Lewis, Manager of the City's Department of Finance. "And I'm hearing a lot of arguments without a lot to back it up!"

Chris Brown -- owner of Wray's Market Fresh IGA -- told me that while he doesn't oppose the labeling, he doesn't know what his obligations would be. "It would be hard for me to enforce and it's not fair to me that if we end up with something in the store without our knowledge, I should be penalized."

In Yakima County, where agriculture dominates the local economy, most farmers oppose the measure. They fear the stigma and a greater regulatory burden.

Supporters of I-522 maintain the long-term consequences of eating genetically-altered foods are currently unknown and that consumers have a right to know what they're eating.

T.J. Davis owns Shorty's Sweets Treats 'N Cakes -- a downtown Yakima bakery. Shorty's would not be directly affected by I-522.

T-J has not decided which way he'll vote, but he's concerned voters don't know what's really in the proposal. "There is probably some stuff that is very misleading on both sides of the issue and I just hope everyone makes a vote for themselves and not for what somebody tells them to do."

Both sides are trying to tell them. They've poured in $25 million into the campaign so far.