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New Congress bill would require labelling on genetically modified foods in U.S.

After defeat of California’s Proposition in November 2012, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced a new bill: Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. The bill can already count on nine bipartisan Senate co-sponsors, along with 22 cosponsors in the House

A decades-long push to require the labelling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients in the United States received a significant boost some days ago, when bipartisan bills on the issue were simultaneously proposed in the House and Senate.

The new bill, known as the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, was introduced on 24th April by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and resembles previous legislation that failed to garner sufficient support in Congress.

However, the bill can already count on nine bipartisan Senate co-sponsors, along with 22 cosponsors in the House. That wide base of support may give the new legislation a better shot - not to mention the fact that over 90 per cent of Americans already support compulsory labeling of genetically modified foods.

The legislative moves mark the first time that such a bill has been proposed in the U.S. Senate in more than a dozen years, a period during which the use of genetically modified crops has expanded exponentially.

“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Senator Barbara Boxer, a key sponsor of the new bill and author of the 2000 proposal, said “This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”
According to an initial draft, the right-to-know bill is similar to existing regulations in sixty-four other countries, including EU members, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Brazil and India.

In the US, however, the biotechnology sector has spent a significant amount of money in hopes of defeating GMO labeling efforts. California’s Proposition 37, for example, was defeated in November 2012 after companies such as Monsanto and The Hershey Co. outspent supporters of such labeling $44 million to $7.3 million.

Senator DeFazio, one of the co-sponsors of the new bill, has been growing organic produce for 40 years. In comments made to The Huffington Post, he stated that consumers had the right to decide for themselves whether to purchase and consume organisms that were created only in recent decades.

Representatives of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and Monsanto reiterated that they generally opposed mandatory GMO food labels. "Unfortunately, advocates of mandatory 'GMO labeling' are working an agenda to vilify biotechnology and scare consumers away from safe and healthful food products," BIO spokeswoman Karen Badt wrote to The Huffington Post.

The new proposal was almost certainly helped along not only by widespread public backing but also by growing support from corporations and state-level governments. Just this year, over 50 bills in 26 states have introduced proposals on GE food labelling.

by T N
06 may 2013, World News > America

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