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3-Food: 500,000 U.S. citizens called for GE food labelling

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TITLE:  Time Petition to Congress seeks labels on transgenic
SOURCE: Reuters, by Julie Vorman
DATE:   June 17, 1999

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Petition to Congress seeks labels on transgenic foods

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - Nearly a half-million Americans
urged Congress on Thursday to require labels on foods containing
genetically-modified soybeans, corn and other ingredients,
reflecting growing consumer unease around the world about
transgenic crops. A petition drive, coordinated by a little-known
political party, is one of the first signs that U.S. consumer
support for bioengineered crops may be wavering. While activists
in the European Union have lashed out for months against what
they call "Frankenstein foods," American shoppers have been
relatively complacent about the swelling numbers of farm fields
planted with genetically-modified (GM) corn, soybeans, tomatoes,
potatoes and other crops. U.S. farmers, agribusiness and the U.S.
Agriculture Department have embraced biotechnology to reduce the
amount of pesticides and chemicals used on fields, and to
increase the size and quality of crops. This year, more than 60
million acres of the nation's fields will be planted with GM

A petition, signed by nearly 500,000 consumers, was delivered
Thursday to House Minority Whip David Boniors, a Michigan
Democrat, by leaders of the Natural Law Party. The small party,
linked to a group of transcendental meditation advocates in Iowa,
said the sheer number of signatures shows that the issue is
important to mainstream America. "We are not calling for a
boycott of genetically-engineered foods. We simply want labels on
them so consumers can make a choice about what they buy,"said
Adam Dobritsky, a spokesman for the party. "We also want the
government to conduct an investigation into the long-term safety
of this food." The petition comes at a time when more
uncertainties are coming to light about transgenic crops.


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