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Sen. Barbara Boxer Introduces GMO Food Labeling Bill.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation (S 2080) to require consumer labels on foods made with GMO crops. The bill is similar to legislation already submitted in the House by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Boxer previewed her legislation by sending every Senate office the results of two polls showing that more than 80 percent of Americans want genetically engineered food labeled. "Given the rapid expansion of this largely untested technology, we should provide consumers with the right to know whether they are eating genetically engineered food," Boxer wrote in a "Dear Colleague" letter.

Boxer proposed that that all GMO foods carry the following label: "This product contains a genetically engineered material, or was produced with a genetically engineered material." Boxer said, "Despite the prevalence of genetically engineered food, the effects of its use remain largely unknown because of a lack of studies. So there are two problems: Consumers don't know what they are eating, and there are no studies on the subject." She pointed out that U.S. products sold to a host of trading partners including France, the UK, New Zealand and Japan, already require GMO food to be labeled. "If the U.S. wants to sell its genetically engineered food to these countries, they will have to label the food for foreign consumers," Boxer said. "It is only fair that American consumers be given similar information." Boxer says that her bill has a great deal of support among the public.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). said: "Sen. Boxer's proposed legislation overlooks the fact that biotechnology is the solution to many of the problems she purports to solve through her legislation," BIO consistently has supported the public's right to know what we all eat. BLO also has consistently supported making sure the public gets accurate information. The only measures BIO has cautioned against are those that mislead consumers.

The National Food Processors Association (NFPA) opposes the measure, which an organization spokesman said would interfere with the current FDA regulatory process. NFPA Executive Vice President Kelly Johnston said he did not believe there would be any action on the labeling issue during the 106th Congress, largely because most members and the leadership "stand behind sound science" when it comes to the issue of GMO crops and foods. The Grocery Manufacturers of America agreed. Mandatory labeling of products developed through biotechnology "would result in consumer confusion, not consumer education," said the food group, which is part of 35 leading trade associations, in a letter to every member of the Senate. The trade groups noted that the products of biotechnology are safe and have cleared regulatory hurdles at FDA, EPA and USDA.

While this issue continues to get increased attention on Capitol Hill, congressional sources also give low odds for any mandatory labeling. Still, Kucinich said he believes momentum in Congress for labeling will build as a result of market pressures. Outspoken GMO defender Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) recently told an interviewer with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he hopes to ensure enough people "understand this issue" so anti-genetic food sentiments can be countered and that he wants to make sure that labeling bills do not advance in Congress. Bond recently sent a "Dear Colleague" letter noting the "incredible scientific consensus regarding the application and regulation of [GMO] technology."
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Title Annotation:Product Information
Comment:Sen. Barbara Boxer Introduces GMO Food Labeling Bill.(Product Information)
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 28, 2000
Words:547
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