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GMOs and Crop Biodiversity Loss in Washington State, USA


Washington, a state in the north west corner of the United States, put forth a bill that would require all seeds and foods that were Genetically Engineered or from Genetically Modified Organisms to be labeled by 2015.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:GMOs and Crop Biodiversity Loss in Washington State, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Washington
Location of conflict:Washington, United States
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific commodities:Land
Fruits and Vegetables
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In the United States approximately 80% of processed foods come from genetically engineered agricultural products, for example 88% of the corn and soy planted in the United States is genetically modified.

Level of Investment:8.4 million USD raised in support of labeling Genetically Engineered foods, 22 million in opposition to labeling
Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:6.8 million people (population of Washington)
Start of the conflict:01/01/2012
Relevant government actors:Food and Drug Administration, United States Congress, Washington State Government, Washington State Department of Ecology
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Yes on 522 (, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsUnknown long term health problems related to the consumption of GMOs
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Land dispossession
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:Lots of support from both community, state and nationwide groups of producing new legislation for transparency. This include support from environmentally conscious corporations.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:No, although there is much support throughout the country there are still large industries that are able to be very politically influencing. There is momentum that could produce a success in the future.
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Initiative 522 campaign
[click to view]

[click to view]

Washington State voters rejecting initiative to label genetically modified foods
[click to view]

GMO Labeling Fight Moves to Washington State
[click to view]

Other comments:This is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan.
Meta information
Contributor:Sara Orvis, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update04/01/2016
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