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CONSUMERS & REGULATION: Pennsylvania (USA) legislator leaps into ‘Frankenfood’ labeling debate



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   LEGISLATOR LEAPS INTO ?FRANKENFOOD? DEBATE

SOURCE:  Philadelphia Inquirer, USA

AUTHOR:  Sandy Bauers

URL:     http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/greenliving/Leach-introduces-PA-bill-to-require-labeling-of-GMO-foods.html

DATE:    12.03.2013

SUMMARY: "State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery/Delaware) announced the introduction of legislation that would require foods that contain genetically-engineered components to be labeled as such. [...] ?I?ve introduced this bill not to ban genetically engineered foods, but to allow consumers to choose which items they purchase. I am concerned about the lack of information available about the presence of genetically engineered food, and I believe it is every consumer?s right to know what ingredients are found in the products they buy,? Leach said in a press release."

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LEGISLATOR LEAPS INTO ?FRANKENFOOD? DEBATE

Earlier today, State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery/Delaware) announced the introduction of legislation that would require foods that contain genetically-engineered components to be labeled as such.

He said the bill has already received support from national and local organizations and individuals including food cooperatives, organic farmers, environmentalists and food justice proponents.

?I?ve introduced this bill not to ban genetically engineered foods, but to allow consumers to choose which items they purchase. I am concerned about the lack of information available about the presence of genetically engineered food, and I believe it is every consumer?s right to know what ingredients are found in the products they buy,? Leach said in a press release.

Many refer to genetically-modified food products as ?Frankenfood,? although the industry says the technology is beneficial.

If the legislation passes, it would be the first in the nation. A similar California bill, Proposition 37, failed in California in last November?s election. Some 53 percent of voters voted against the labeling law, and 47 percent voted for it.

The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that the measure ?fell victim to a mediat blitz bankrolled by $46 million in campaign contributions from big biotech companies, including Monsanto Co., grocery manufacturers and agricultural firms.? The campaign supporting the measure spent $9 million.

Although the measure failed, its supporters claimed a partial victory because, they said, they drew significant attention to the issue.

Supporters of labeling say consumers deserve to know what?s in their food, just as current labels specify amounts of nutrients, salt, carbohydrates, fats and other ingredients. However, many supporters of labeling also oppose genetically-engineered foods, saying it is an unproven technology that could harm people.

Opponents of the California measure said that it was expensive and bureaucratic. Opponents also have said that labeling food that has genetically-engineers components suggests that GE foods are harmful, which the GE industry says is not the case.

The industry says GE technology has the promise to increase food production and help adapt food production to climate change, developing corn that needs less fertilizer and rice that needs less water, for instance.

According to the Center for Food Safety, up to 85 percent of corn, 91 percent of soy beans and 95 percent of sugar beets in the United States are made with genetically modified organisms, Leach noted. Additionally, up to 70 percent of processed foods found in grocery stores have been genetically modified.

Leach?s announcement come in the wake of a decision by Whole Foods to require its suppliers label all GE foods in its stores by 2018.

Joining Leach at a press conference today were Sam Bernhardt, Pennsylvania Organizer, Food & Water Watch; Karen Stark, GMO-Free PA; Brian Snyder, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture; Jon McGoran, Communications Director, Weavers Way Food Cooperative; Roman Stoltzfoos, Organic Farmer, Spring Wood Dairy; Rebecca Frimmer, General Manager, Greensgrow Farm; Maria Payans, Executive Director, Peachbottom Concerned Citizens Group.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   LEACH INTRODUCES BILL TO REQUIRE LABELING OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD

SOURCE:  Senator Daylin Leach, USA

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.senatorleach.com/leach-introduces-bill-to-require-labeling-of-genetically-engineered-food

DATE:    12.03.2013

SUMMARY: "State Sen. Daylin Leach today held a press conference to announce the introduction of legislation that would require the labeling of genetically engineered food in Pennsylvania.  If passed, Senate Bill 653 would become the first law of its kind in the United States. It has already received support from national and local organizations and individuals including food cooperatives, organic farmers, environmentalists and food justice proponents. Despite the lack of legislative action on this issue so far in the United States, sixty-one countries already have laws requiring disclosure of genetically modified organisms on food labels."

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LEACH INTRODUCES BILL TO REQUIRE LABELING OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD

HARRISBURG, March 12, 2013 ? State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today held a press conference to announce the introduction of legislation that would require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food in Pennsylvania. 

If passed, Senate Bill 653 would become the first law of its kind in the United States. It has already received support from national and local organizations and individuals including food cooperatives, organic farmers, environmentalists and food justice proponents. Despite the lack of legislative action on this issue so far in the United States, sixty-one countries (including Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, Russia, Malaysia, the European Union member states and other key U.S. trading partners) already have laws requiring disclosure of genetically modified organisms on food labels.

?I?ve introduced this bill not to ban genetically engineered foods, but to allow consumers to choose which items they purchase. I am concerned about the lack of information available about the presence of genetically engineered food, and I believe it is every consumer?s right to know what ingredients are found in the products they buy,? Leach said. ?We can find out how much fat and sodium are in our food, with a full list of ingredients and nutritional information on every box, but we are not informed about the inclusion of ingredients that could be potentially detrimental to our health and wellness.? 

The Center for Food Safety said that up to 85 percent of corn, 91 percent of soy beans and 95 percent of sugar beets in the United States are made with genetically modified organisms. Additionally, up to 70 percent of processed foods found in grocery stores have been genetically modified.

According to Food and Water Watch, consumers overwhelmingly support knowing whether genetically engineered materials are present in the food they purchase. In fact, polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of the public ? more than ninety percent ? favor the labeling of products with this information. 

?As food production technology evolves, so should our food labeling. Consumers have a right to know which products on market shelves contain genetically engineered ingredients, just like their right to know calorie counts and salt content,? said Sam Bernhardt, statewide organizer with Food & Water Watch. ?Whole Foods just announced they would label GE foods by 2018, but we can set the safety bar higher by doing it here and now.?

Leach said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently require or conduct safety studies of GE foods. Instead, any safety consultations are voluntary, and GE food developers may decide what information to provide to the agency.

S.B. 653, introduced yesterday, currently has twelve cosponsors.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   PENNSYLVANIA COALITION LAUNCHES PUSH FOR LABELING OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

SOURCE:  Food & Water Watch, USA

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/pressreleases/broad-statewide-coalition-launches-push-for-labeling-of-genetically-engineered-foods-in-pennsylvania/

DATE:    12.03.2013

SUMMARY: "A broad coalition of consumer, environmental, labor, farming, faith and business organizations announced the launch today of a statewide campaign to pass legislation requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods in Pennsylvania. The coalition was joined by State Senator Daylin Leach, co-sponsor of a GE labeling bill that was introduced in the legislature this week with bipartisan support. Since their introduction to the market more than a decade ago there has been an explosion of GE foods on the shelves of grocery stores. Inadequate testing of these products by government agencies and a reliance on industry-produced health and safety data has resulted in a growing GE labeling movement among consumers across the nation."

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PENNSYLVANIA COALITION LAUNCHES PUSH FOR LABELING OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

Bipartisan Legislation Would Require Disclosure of Genetically Altered Ingredients Currently Found in Most Processed Foods

Harrisburg, Pa. ? A broad coalition of consumer, environmental, labor, farming, faith and business organizations announced the launch today of a statewide campaign to pass legislation requiring the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in Pennsylvania. The coalition was joined by State Senator Daylin Leach, co-sponsor of a GE labeling bill that was introduced in the legislature this week with bipartisan support.

Since their introduction to the market more than a decade ago there has been an explosion of GE foods on the shelves of grocery stores. Inadequate testing of these products by government agencies and a reliance on industry-produced health and safety data has resulted in a growing GE labeling movement among consumers across the nation.

?I?ve introduced this bill not to ban genetically engineered foods, but to allow consumers to take control of which items they purchase. I believe it is every consumer?s right to know what ingredients are found in the products they buy,? Sen. Daylin Leach said. ?We can find out how much fat and sodium are in our food, with a full list of ingredients and nutritional information on every box, but we are not informed about the inclusion of ingredients that could be potentially detrimental to our health and wellness.?

?As food production technology evolves, so should our food labeling. Consumers have a right to know which products on market shelves contain genetically engineered ingredients, just like their right to know calorie counts and salt content,? said Sam Bernhardt, statewide organizer with Food & Water Watch. ?Whole Foods just announced they would label GE foods by 2018, but we can set the safety bar higher by doing it here and now.?

Labeling GE foods is not a novel idea. The European Union specifically addresses the new properties and risks of biotech crops by requiring all food, animal feed and processed products with GE contents to bear labels. The EU is among nearly 50 developed countries that require the GE products they import from the United States to be labeled. Furthermore, a 2012 Mellman Group study showed that 91% of US voters favored GE labeling requirements.

?The American consumer has woken up in the last few years and feels unnerved by the smokescreen surrounding our food supply. The demand for transparency is peaking and the GE labeling movement is a reflection of this,? said Zofia Hausman of GMO-Free PA. ?This is simply about our fundamental right to know what is in our food and the freedom to choose.?

?Consumers today are better educated and more savvy about issues related to food. They want to know where it comes from, how it is produced, and what?s been added to it along the way to their dinner tables,? said Brian Snyder, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). ?Farmers are also benefitting from such transparency in the food system. They want labels to reflect the truth about food.?

?While there are as many reasons for joining a co-op as there are people who join them, there?s one thing that co-op consumers, and all consumers, have in common: they care about what they eat. That?s why co-ops care about GE labeling; our members, our shoppers and all shoppers have a right to know what they are eating,? said Jon McGoran, Communications Director for Weavers Way Co-op.

?Genetically engineered food is a major threat to the family farm. Organic and sustainable farming methods can feed the world and will make it a healthier place to live and work. I want GE foods off my farms and out of my food, and this legislation will help accomplish that,? said organic farmer Roman Stoltzfoos of Spring Wood Dairy.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.