The state of Washington, via state Senator Maralyn Chase, is seeking to require the labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered (GE) materials, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
According to The Institute for Responsible Technology, GMOs are “the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artifically forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal.” For the time being, there are no federal laws in the United States requiring labeling for GMOs or GEs.
This has reportedly been an issue in the works with Chase for many years, as she firmly believes labeling these important details on food products is about the “question of transparency and accountability.”
If the bill passes, all genetically engineered raw foods would be clearly labeled with the words “genetically engineered,” and processed foods would include a label that states the product may contain genetically engineered ingredients, along with a list of ingredients. This would be put in place by July 2014.
The Senator isn’t the only one in favor of this bill. Last year, Eastern Washington farmers brought forth a petition with 1,200 signatures to the Legislature, calling for these labels as well. Wheat farmer Tom Stahl started the petition, and has partnered with other local farmers to create the “Committee to Save Farm Markets.” They’ve sent petitions to local state representatives, and even Congress, but their calls have been ignored.
Stahl maintains that tests have shown that GMOs are a danger to animals health, but there hasn’t been enough in-depth research to determine the effects on humans, which is a growing concern. Major companies like Monsanto are promoting the production of GMO foods, producing the majority of genetically engineered corn, soy, cotton, and sugar beets.
Cary Condotta, another Washington official, supports a similar bill requiring GMO labels. The bills could be combined as the process begins to unfold.
Would seeing these labels on your food affect your purchasing decisions?