Should Pennsylvania Enforce GMO Food Labeling?
Back in December, I undertook the Food Stamp Challenge alongside my PW colleague, Sheena Lester, and we both learned something too obvious: Much of the cheap food we were able to afford on $35 per week not only isn’t healthy, but is genetically engineered — or, as it’s often been dubbed, “Frankenfood.”
The nonprofit Center for Food Safety cites studies that GE food may increase risks of “toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer,” and according to the group’s shopper’s guide, most generic food brands contain genetically-modified organisms. That’s why liberal Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) wants to make us all aware of what we’re eating. He’s announced plans to introduce a bill that would require state grocery stores to label genetically-engineered foods. According to a memo regarding such a potential bill:
We have a right to know how much fat and sodium are in our food, and a full list of ingredients is on every box, but due to the influence of biotech companies like Monsanto, we don’t know if the foods we are eating are genetically engineered (GE)…
Inadequate testing of these crops has left many consumers concerned about the safety of these foods. GE foods have not been tested for long-term impacts on human and environmental health safety and GE crops usually use more pesticides and herbicides than non-GE crops. Superweeds and pests have become resistant to GE-affiliated herbicides and pesticides, and this requires many more toxic chemicals to be applied to crops.
Since genetically engineered food was introduced in 1996, it’s become a mainstay of virtually all grocery stores across the United States, and its long-term effects aren’t really known. But Leach, and several other legislators across the U.S., aren’t taking any chances. There have been efforts to alert the public to GMOs, despite the food industry’s best efforts: In late February, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis (D) announced a federal bill in the House that would mandate GMO labeling in all 50 states. Meanwhile, Whole Foods has said it may enforce a rule to label products in its stores with or without federal legislation.
UPDATE: Yep, it’s been introduced as a full blown bill.