Mo. Senate Proposes Bill for Genetically-Modified Food Labels

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JEFFERSON CITY - State Senator Jemilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, introduced Senate Bill 155. The bill requires the labeling of all genetically-modified meat and fish produced and sold in Missouri by September 2015.

According to the bill, "genetically-modified" means any animal or fish whose genetic makeup is altered at the molecular level, making changes not possible under a natural process. This includes DNA and RNA techniques, cell fusion, gene deletion or doubling, and similar procedures.

Food and agriculture corporations use genetic modification in order to produce foods at mass quantities and to insure its quality.

Opponents of labeling stress the expense and logistical difficulties of labeling, and the fact that no significant differences have been found between genetically modified and conventional foods.

According to Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University, many countries already have labeling laws, and if the U.S. doesn't follow suit it could have a devastating impact on the U.S. food system and agriculture.

Funding for tests and research on genetically modified food comes from the companies producing the food, such as Monsanto which is based in St. Louis. Benbrook says international traders find this unethical and may waiver from trading opportunities with the U.S.

Similar legislation has sprung up in other states such as Washington, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Mexico after a labeling bill in California was shot down with the help of $46 million raised by food corporations.

In Washington state, Walmart has come forward in support of a labeling program. Proponents of this legislation hope the influence of Walmart, as the largest grocer in the country, will help influence the creation of a national labeling system.