Posted by Rebekah Wilce on February 19, 2013

Bills were introduced in the Iowa and Illinois state senates last week that would require genetically engineered (GE) foods to be labeled. Iowa's bill would require labeling if a food contains more than nine-tenths of a percent GE ingredients, whereas Illinois' bill has a one percent threshold.

GMO tomatoesCalifornia Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of GE foods in that state, failed in November 2012 by a very narrow margin, despite massive spending by the food and biotechnology industries and their lobbying groups. The European Union already requires labeling of all food, animal feeds, and processed products with GE content. And 50 countries require labeling for the GE products they import from the United States. A 2012 Mellman Group Study showed that 91 percent of U.S. voters favored having the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require labels on GE foods and ingredients.

Possible Risks of GE Products

Environmental risks of GE crops are well documented. As CMD has reported, there was a six-fold increase in the use of glyphosate pesticides (commonly called "Roundup" after Monsanto's heavily used pesticide product) on soybeans in the first ten years since the introduction of "Roundup Ready" soybeans in 1996, the first such "Roundup Ready" crop to be planted commercially. And certain weeds, like pigweed (Amaranth), have developed resistance to pesticides like glyphosate, causing farmers to spray more.

Although GE foods are approved for human consumption by the FDA, safety concerns persist, and the FDA has no effective way to track any adverse health effects. In 2011, a study done by Canadian scientists documented the presence of pesticides associated with GE crops in the human blood for the first time. Blood was taken from women and from fetal cord blood and tested for three pesticides associated with GM: glyphosate, glufosinate, and Cry1Ab. The surprising finding was that Cry1Ab was detected in 93 percent and 80 percent of maternal and fetal blood samples, respectively and in 69 percent samples from nonpregnant women. This and other risks, such as allergenicity, are cited by Dr. Michael Hansen in a recent submission to the American Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health.

Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcom's Valentine for Voters: The Right to Know

The Iowa bill, Senate File 194, was introduced on February 14 by Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City). The bill, if passed, would require labeling if a food contains more than nine-tenths of a percent GE ingredients.

"Consumers want to know what is in their food. This is a simple bill that gives consumers information they want," Sen. Bolkcom said in a statement released by the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

Illinois Senator Dave Koehler Introduces Bill to Label GE Foods

The Illinois bill, SB 1666, was introduced on February 13 by Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). The bill, if passed, would require labeling if a food contains more than one percent GE ingredients.

"SB 1666 presents a tremendous opportunity to improve research and expand our understanding of GE crops and foods," Jessica Fujan, Illinois organizer for Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. "Labeling will give us the data we need to draw solid conclusions about GE foods, and it will give consumers the ability to make fully informed decisions about what we are eating and feeding our families. Right now, the companies that stand to profit from genetic engineering are making those decisions for us."

Washington State Voters Petition to Take GE Labeling to the Polls

Activists in Washington State delivered over 300,000 signatures to the state legislature on January 4, 2013, to put a GE food and seed labeling legislative initiative, I-522, on the ballot. That was enough to get the initiative certified. As specified by state law, the initiative goes first to the state legislature, which has the power to enact, reject or modify it. At a hearing in Olympia, Washington, on February 14, lawmakers heard both sides of the debate. Voters await the legislature's decision on the initiative.

Citizens Pushing for Labeling "Over and Over Again"

After California's Prop 37 to label GE foods failed by a narrow margin in November 2012, the big food lobby patted itself on the back cautiously and with some clear signs of exhaustion and worry. Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, who had previously said that Prop 37 "scared us to death," said in an official statement, "This gives us hope that you can, with a well-funded, well-organized, well-executed campaign, defeat a ballot initiative and go directly to the voters. We hope we don't have too many of them, because you can't keep doing that over and over again..."

Eaters who believe in the right to know when food contains GE ingredients can join Food & Water Watch in petitioning for a national GE labeling law here, working to pass laws in the states here, or find out more from the Organic Consumers Association.

Rebekah Wilce

Rebekah Wilce is a reporter and researcher who directs CMD's Food Rights Network project.

Comments

Reign in this GMO beast. First, overturn Clarence Thomas' decision to allow Monsanto a patent on the seed. A Supreme Court justice who used to be a lawyer for Monsanto decides the fate of our food?! MADNESS!! He should have recused himself. Obvious corruption. Seeds were made by Mother Nature and should NEVER have a patent. Second, the food supply should NEVER be tampered with, allowing viruses, bacteria and foreign genes. The DNA of a plant should NEVER be altered or compromised. It becomes a toxic offender to the human body.

Clarence Thomas was there again today to hear this latest case. Check this out:

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/02/monsanto.html

FDA, MONSANTO, SUPREME COURT, US GOV'T ALL CORRUPT & COMPLICIT IN POISONING AMERICANS. NOT CHINA, NOT RUSSIA...THE GOOD OLD US OF A, THE ONE THAT WE ONCE TRUSTED. WE DON'T TRUST YOU ANYMORE!!!!

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/02/monsanto.html

This is absolutely crazy.

GMO engineering is creating a revolving door of food contamination, ill health and the risk of 'starwars' mutant evolution of the human species!!! Who benefits? The medical industry. Just as we created a industry of dependent gambling, alcohol and drug addictions to perpetuate a "trumped up" rehabilitation industries for these disorders.

We are ruining health, environment and ultimately the planet.

There is nothing natural about the food we eat. Without fertilizer the earth could only feed 1 billion people. But now the population is out of control and the hope is with engineered foods they all can afford enough to eat.

I think you may be reading PR spin from Monsanto.

Have you seen this recent report: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/02/do-gmo-crops-have-lower-yields

...And using the land for other, more nutritious ones might help:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/its-the-sugar-folks/

I am just about ready to move to a country where the food supply is SAFE and not stuffed full of chemicals. Why don't the companies provide the US population with the same food products they ship overseas - free of chemicals, additives, and genetically engineered products. We need to adopt some of the same food safety laws as Sweden, Italy, and other industrialized third world countries. They do not allow all these chemicals. Companies need to get back to natural food production and quit worrying about shelf life in this country. Studies are coming out that prove their is a link to these chemicals resulting in obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. We need to make these companies listen - stop buying their products - by imported food products. Let their contaminated food products sit on the grocery shelves. That is the only way we can get their attention. DON'T BUY PROCESSED FOOD PRODUCTS.