Growing Chorus Seeks Labels For Genetically Modified Food

from From Maine to Washington, a growing number of states are taking on the issue of genetically engineered foods, fanning the flames of a decades-old debate about whether the products are dangerous to human health.

This month, Connecticut became the first state to pass a law requiring the labeling of food made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In May, the Vermont House passed a similar bill, which will now be taken up by the Senate. Right to Know GMO, a self-described grass-roots coalition with members in 37 states, counts 26 states that have introduced labeling bills.

In Washington state, a referendum on GMO labeling is scheduled for November. Last November, a referendum in California failed 53-47 after the biotech industry spent nearly $45 million on opposition ads.

At the federal level, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced a bill in April – separate from the farm bill – that would direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “clearly label” genetically engineered foods. Boxer notes she has 11 co-sponsors of the bill, which she first introduced in 2000. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced the House version.

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