State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Supporters try to unstick GMO labeling bills

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 2, 2014 4:16 PM

Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

A handful of advocates called on lawmakers Monday to support mandatory labels on food altered through biotechnology.

Genetically engineered foods, also called genetically modified organisms or GMOs, are often changed to contain enhanced nutritional value, fend off pests, or tolerate herbicides.

Bills pending in the state House and Senate would require such products come with a label, alerting consumers of the GMOs within. Relevant committees have no plans to advance the proposals.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in support of the legislation said no one's trying to scare people away from GMOs.

"Let people know what they're eating," said Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe).

Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), introduced the Senate measure last year. He took pains to point out that his measure does not seek to limit the use of GMOs, only label them.

"If you put a tomato in a can of soup, you have to say there's a tomato in the can soup, on the ingredient labels," said Leach. "If you put a GMO in a can of soup, you should have to say, there's a GMO in this -- factually accurate information."

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau opposes mandatory labels, saying such a law could lead consumers to believe GMOs are unsafe. Grocers have raised the possibility that the proposed labels increase food production costs.

Last month, Vermont became the first state to set a date for required GMO labels. Legal challenges are expected from the food industry.

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