State bills to require labeling of genetically engineered food are encountering a bumpy road.
A house committee in Colorado heard five hours of testimony last week before voting to kill a GE food labeling bill by a 7-to-2 vote. The public hearing pitted the state’s agricultural interests against consumers favoring the “right to know.”
A spokesman for the powerful Colorado Association of Wheat Growers told lawmakers that labeling GE foods would raise grocery prices. Genetically modified wheat requires fewer pesticides and less water, farmers told the committee.
State Rep. Jeanne Labuda (D-Denver) said consumers have a right to know about how their food is produced. She said one more label requirement would not be overly burdensome.
Proponents of GE food labeling are also making attempts in Iowa and Illinois.
In Iowa, State Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) introduced his GE food-labeling bill, Senate File 194, on Feb. 13. The bill was assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee, but has not yet received a public hearing.
The National Federation of Independent Business, the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Iowa Seed Association, Biotechnology Association, Du Pont Businesses, Kraft Foods Global Inc., Iowa Grocery Association and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry are among those lining up against the bill.
Waiting for their chance to move the bill are the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund and Food and Water Watch. Senator Bolkcom says his is a simple bill “that gives consumers information they want.”
In neighboring Illinois, Senate Bill 1666 would require labeling of food containing more than 1 percent in GE ingredients if passed. It was introduced by state Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria).
The Senate Assignments Committee is currently trying to decide what to do with the bill. Both the Iowa and Illinois Legislatures extended into May.© Food Safety News