Some Whatcom County farmers split on I-522

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jlangelerKING5

KING5.com

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 8 at 7:20 PM

BELLINGHAM -- Division of opinion over Initative 522, in at least one case, includes the very group of people backing the effort to label genetically modified food, organic farmers.

In Whatcom County, one of the largest agriculture communities in Washington, small organic farmer and county agriculture commission member Larry Helm calls I-522 "full of contradictions" and "Not well-written."

Helm raises Scottish Highlanders and has fifty fruit trees, and they're all organic. But he contends the initative will cost farmers too much money and confuse consumers.

"I'm not against labeling foods for GMO," Helm explained Tuesday, "(But) all the large farms are against it. The Farm Bureau's against it. It's not being accepted."

Helm's opinion is part of a wide spectrum within the farming community. Most organic growers and farmers support I-522 while large-scale producers oppose the measure for its costs.

"In a democracy, in an information based society like ours, people have a right to know what is in something as fundamental as their food," commented organic farmer Mike Finger.

Finger has operated his Cedarville Farm near Bellingham for 25 years. He doesn't see the same contradictions his fellow organic grower Mr. Helm does.

"I think making farmers more dependent on the products of large, multi-national corporations and less independent  and able to do for themselves, we're seeing that enough," Finger said.

More than $24 million has been poured into both sides of the I-522 campaign, with those against raising roughly $17 million.  Almost all of that money has come from out-of-state.

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