This Washington

Bill Would Require Labeling of GMOs

By Erica C. Barnett January 26, 2012

A proposal in the state senate, sponsored by Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-32) would require Washington State food manufacturers to label genetically modified foods (GMOs, for genetically modified organisms) got a hearing in the senate's agriculture committee today, with proponents arguing that consumers deserve to know whether their food includes GMOs, and opponents arguing that requiring labels would be prohibitively expensive (one opponent argued that GMO labeling would lead to Americans buying our food from China) and that the issue should be settled at the federal level, rather than a "patchwork," state-by-state series of regulations.

Tom Davis, a lobbyist for the Washington Farm Bureau, said GMOs are "a national issue [that] should stay a national issue. ... We don't need a patchwork state-by-state [system] of labeling requirements that will make it even more complicated for the folks in the food industry to do business."

A recent study found that people who consumed GMO rice have small amounts of ribonucleic acid---genetic coding---from the rice in their DNA. Whether this is harmful remains an open question, but the finding highlights how much we don't actually know about the food we consume.

GMO-Free Washington has made the bill its top priority for the current legislative session.
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