SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 23, 2014

States weighing labels on genetically altered food

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In the absence of federal regulation, states from Rhode Island to Hawaii are considering laws to require labels on food items containing genetically modified ingredients.

Currently, only Connecticut and Maine have laws requiring labels for genetically modified food. But those requirements won’t kick in until other states adopt their own rules. Bills to do just that are expected in more than two dozen states.

Seventy percent of processed foods contain at least one ingredient made or derived from genetically modified crops, known as GMOs, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. The industry-backed Grocery Manufacturers Association puts the number between 70 and 80 percent.

Genetic modifications to a plant can improve its quality, hardiness or resistance to pests or disease. Scientific studies have found no evidence that GMOs are more harmful than foods without genetic modifications, but those pushing for label requirements point to the value in the information itself.

“I don’t know if it’s harmful or unhealthy, but it’s something people have a right to know about,” said Rhode Island state Rep. Dennis Canario, a Democrat sponsoring a labeling bill. “They put calories on a package. They put the fat content. If the ingredients have been genetically altered, shouldn’t that be listed on there somewhere?”

The proposals are opposed by biotechnology companies and many agricultural groups, who say genetic engineering has yielded more sustainable, affordable and productive farming around the globe. Business groups worry that labeling requirements would raise costs for food producers — and ultimately consumers — and raise unnecessary fears.

“This is mainstream agriculture,” said Karen Batra, a spokeswoman with BIO, a biotechnology trade association. “It is how our food is grown, and it’s how the vast majority of our commodity crops are grown. There’s never been a single reported medical incident related to the consumption of these foods.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • 140724_SN_DLE_PEM1-1 Peabody Essex Museum severs ties with Gordon College

    SALEM -- The Peabody Essex Museum announced Thursday that it had ended its longstanding collaboration with Gordon College and its museum studies program, saying the school's attitude toward gay and lesbian individuals conflicts with its fundamental values.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 7 Stories

  • Cop wants pension credit for lifeguard work BOXFORD -- A veteran Boxford police officer is trying to boost his retirement pension by getting credit for his summer job as a lifeguard nearly four decades ago. In a letter to a state appeals board, John Iannazzo said working as a lifeguard for the

    July 25, 2014

  • 140724_SN_DLE_BRIMBAL3 Residents skeptical of Brimbal Avenue plans

    BEVERLY -- Neighborhood residents turned out in healthy numbers Thursday for an open meeting to see and discuss new design plans for the Brimbal Avenue/Route 128 interchange. Concerns ranged from biking and pedestrian safety to tax dollars spending a

    July 25, 2014 6 Photos 9 Stories

  • 140724_SN_DLE_GRIFFIN6 Peabody's new police chief receives upbeat welcome

    PEABODY -- More than 100 family, friends, well-wishers, city officials and police officers lined Wiggin Auditorium in City Hall yesterday afternoon to applaud the swearing in of former Salem Capt. Thomas Griffin as the city's new police chief. "Today

    July 24, 2014 8 Photos

  • 140721_GT_MSP_MARKETBASKET_04 [Duplicate] Ousted CEO bids for Market Basket Arthur T. Demoulas' offer to buy the rest of the supermarket chain embroiled in a widespread protest and boycott was met with elation, and then a reality check, protest organizers said Thursday. Demoulas announced his offer Wednesday night, though he

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo