Push for national GMO label2 min read

Carla Arango, Staff Writer

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., recently introduced a senate bill which requires nationwide labeling of genetically engineered foods.

“We deserve to have a right to know what’s in the foods we eat,” Boxer stated at a May 2 press conference.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced a bill similar to Boxer’s to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“When American families purchase food, they deserve to know if that food was genetically engineered in a laboratory,” he said in a press release.

Boxer’s “Genetically Engineered Right-to-Know Act”, Senate Bill 809, is similar to California’s Proposition 37, which also called for labeling of genetically engineered foods. Voters rejected the proposition last year by 51.4 percent.

Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology, according to the
Non-GMO Project.

“It is taking a gene from one organism and adding it to another,” said Brian McCauley, professor of molecular biology at De Anza College.

For example Bt Corn was developed by inserting a bacteria gene to make a protein that kills certain pests, he said.

“[The] FDA has studied genetically engineered foods carefully and has not found any problems,” said Ann Reisenaeur, professor of human biology at De Anza. “It doesn’t affect humans.”

McCauley agreed: “There’s no evidence to show that it (genetically engineered foods) causes harm.”

“Determining the safety of such foods requires long-term scientific study, and that’s not yet been accomplished,” Boxer said at the press conference.

Many De Anza students worry about GMO foods’ safety and say they support Boxer’s bill.

“It’s important for citizens to know about their food and where it comes from,” said Adria Sui, 21, majoring in film. “The label is there, for us to see, and you can choose whether or not to buy it.”

Claudia Barajas, a 21-year-old sociology major, said she supported Proposition 37.

“I think it’s important for everyone to be conscious of what they’re eating and purchasing,” Barajas said.

Despite acknowledging that GMOs do not pose any adverse health effects, Reisenauer said she supports the bill because “people should know what’s in their food.”

McCauley said he does not support the bill.

“I’m very disappointed in Barbara Boxer because I’ve supported her before,” he said.

McCauley said he sees GMO labeling as unnecessary information and as a distraction from the real problem.

“I’m worried more about pesticides, we should be thinking more about that harm.”

Senate Bill 809 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions April 24. The commitee has not scheduled a hearing for the bill.