- About Us
Hugo's in Redmond hosting talks to discuss I-522
Every Tuesday through Oct. 29, Hugo’s Restaurant at 8110 164th Ave. N.E. in downtown Redmond is hosting a Kitchen Conversation series to give people the opportunity to learn more about Initiative 522.
If passed, the initiative — which will be on the Nov. 5 ballot — notes all food found in grocery stores would be required to have a label on the packaging if it contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The measure would not apply to food on a restaurant menu.
The talks at Hugo’s will be at 3:30 p.m. every week and are in partnership with the Yes on 522 campaign.
Teri Sahm, the restaurant’s general manager/food and beverage, said with a restaurant focused on serving organic, gluten-free, soy-free and cow-milk dairy-free dishes, I-522 lined up with their philosophy. She also said it is important for consumers to know about what is in their food and make informed choices.
“We contacted (Yes on 522) because it’s something we believe in,” Sahm said. “People need to know if something contains GMOs.”
The talks will be open forums led by Jeremy Zegas, outreach director for Yes on 522, discussing why GMO labeling is important and what it means to people. People can reserve a space for the events by emailing email@example.com or calling (425) 298-4084. Hugo’s will be providing complimentary appetizers and ionized/alkalized water at the events.
Elizabeth Larter, communication director for Yes on 522, said Washington is the only state to have something on the topic on its ballot, but Main and Connecticut have both recently passed similar bills through their state legislatures and Alaska has had a law since 2005 that required labels for genetically engineered fish. She said about half of the remaining states in the country currently have something in the works regarding GMO labeling.
“To me, it just makes sense to want to know what you’re eating,” said Fall City resident Sue Heaps, who attended the talk at Hugo’s on Tuesday.
She said she became interested in I-522 because she likes to be conscientious of what she is eating.
“It seems so simple,” Heaps said about labeling food, although she acknowledged her thoughts may just be because she supports the initiative.
Dana Bieber, spokesperson for the No on 522 coalition, said the initiative is not simple and does not provide consumers with meaningful information.
For example, cheese is exempt from the labeling but does contain a genetically engineered enzyme. Conversely, Bieber said refined sugar made from the sugar beet would be labeled to contain GMOs, even though once it is processed, the genetically engineered protein is no longer there.
“That’s where consumers are being misled,” she said. “It fails on its fundamental promise of giving information to consumers. Instead, it gives misinformation to consumers.”
Bieber said GMO labeling is unnecessary because there are already labels for organic and non-GMO foods, which are 100 percent reliable.
She added that if I-522 were to pass, it would cost families at least $450 a year on increased prices for groceries.
No on 522 has a number of supporters from out of state, but Bieber said one in-state supporter is the Washington State Farm Bureau.
“Our farmers know (I-522) hurts them,” she said, because it puts a large burden on them.