With few big elections occurring on November 5, besides the Virginia governor's race, more attention is being paid to some smaller, but controversial state ballot measures. Specifically, Washington state's initiative 522, requiring all genetically modified products to be clearly labeled. This increase in attention has also lead to an increase in money far surpassing any previous fundraising efforts for Washington's ballot initiatives.
Large agricultural corporations, such as Monsanto, have been pouring in money to defeat this requirement to label products containing GMOs for fear that once it becomes a requirement in one state, others will soon follow. Although both sides have been raising what would have been considered a staggering amount of money for a statewide ballot initiative pre-Citizens United, $17 million of the $22.5 million spent so far on this issue have been spent on efforts promoting 'no on 522'.
There are undeniably good reasons to pursue genetically modified crops that might hopefully make feeding the world a much more feasible possibility, especially in this time of exponential population and food consumption growth. But the notion that consumers should be allowed to be kept in the dark about what exactly is in their food is not only unethical, it is anti-free market in the most heinous way. Even some of the most strident, anti-government libertarians agree that part of what facilitates a functioning free market system is access to accurate and reliable information. So this idea that everyone should remain complacent while big agri-business reassures us that everything is fine and they have everyone's best interests at heart while refusing to completely disclose exactly what is in their products is abominable.
Ultimately, however, the people to who really get to decide the outcome are the voters of Washington state. Just as they did with gay marriage and marijuana, polls suggest they will make the correct, progressive choice on this important, yet seldom discussed, issue that the rest of the states would be very wise to follow.