Calls for GMO Labeling Keep Cropping Up by Cooksen Beecher
Like a persistent mosquito that keeps coming back no matter how many times you bat it away, the controversial issue of mandated labeling for genetically engineered foods in the United States just won't go away.
The latest example of that persistence is legislation proposed in Washington state that would require genetically engineered foods, or food items that contain genetically engineered foods, to be labeled so consumers can make an informed choice about what they buy.
If approved, for the most part, the labeling requirement as proposed by legislation in Washington state would kick in on July 1, 2014. Fines for not labeling such foods are included in the legislation.
Simply put, genetic engineering is the deliberate modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material. Genetically modified organisms, often referred to as GMOs, are those whose genetic material (DNA or RNA) have been altered in ways that would not occur naturally through mating or cell division.
Examples of genetically modified crops are corn, potatoes and cotton that have had the microbe bT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring pesticide, inserted into their genes so they can resist pests, such as, in the case of corn, the European corn borer, that harm or destroy the crops.
The genetic engineering of plants is generally geared to boost production, improve their ability to survive in specific environments, give them better resistance to pests and diseases, improve their nutritional qualities, and to create immunity to certain herbicides.
Labeling supporters, including Nature's Path Organic, say that GMO ingredients are found in 80 percent of packaged foods in the United States.
Labeling supporters also say that the bottom line in all of this is that people have no idea if the foods they're eating are genetically engineered or contain ingredients from genetically engineered foods because there's no labeling to tell them that.