Bill Proposed To Label Genetically Modified Food

SPOKANE, Wash. - An effort to label food products containing genetically engineered ingredients is gaining momentum in Olympia and across Washington.

"I actually think it's good so consumers know what they are buying at least they can make the choice," said Chris Harris, manager of Main Market Co-Op in downtown Spokane.

Senate Bill 6298 and House Bill 2637 would require food products with GMOs to be labeled. According to the bill, "The genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable, and can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences."

On Wednesday, the first public hearing regarding the bill was held in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Water & Rural Economic Development.

Rice, corn and soy are among the most prevalent GMO crops grown in the United States and around the world.

Harris tries to avoid GMOs because he believes not enough is known about them for human consumption.

"Let's see what they are about before we say they are OK to eat," he said.

Right now, there are no federal labeling requirements for GMOs. If this bill becomes a law, Washington would be the first state to require GMO labeling on all food products with the ingredients.

"If you can balance the good and the bad GMOs with fresh local produce then I think you'll be fine," said Brown, as she shopped for dinner Wednesday night.

"If it was labeled we would appreciate that and we would read it," said Dick Haunschild.

Some shoppers said a new label would not change their shopping habits.

"Because pretty much [everything is] genetically modified eventually, it really doesn't matter whether it is," said Brad Bears, as he finished shopping at a local grocery store Wednesday.

Critics believe GMOs are safe and extra labeling would be expensive.