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SEATTLE - The debate over labeling genetically modified foods has shaped up to be one of the costliest initiative fights ever in Washington state, and most of the money is coming from out of state.

Initiative 522 on the November ballot would require genetically engineered foods offered for retail sale to be labeled as such.

Five corporations and a trade group representing food manufacturers have largely financed efforts to defeat the measure, raising $17.2 million so far. Supporters including natural food companies have raised $4.7 million, according to campaign finance reports.

I-522's supporters say consumers have a right to know whether foods they buy contain genetically engineered ingredients, and a GE label is no different from other food labels. Opponents say it would cost farmers and food processors, and such a label implies the food is somehow less safe.

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