Is your State one of the ones that is set to establish legislation requiring that genetically modified food to be clearly labelled? Organic producers are expecting a big benefit to sales as consumers will have better ability to distinguish between their produce and GM Foods that may be pesticide resistant or modified to improve the nutritional content.
Robert Burns, an organic farmer in eastern Connecticut, is candid in describing his business interest in state legislation requiring that genetically modified food be labeled.
“If you’re an organic producer now, you should get ready for an increase in sales,” said the grower of lettuce, mung beans, red winter wheat berries and other vegetables.
Consumer demand for labeling is rising and producers will have little choice but to comply, he said.
Many backers of similar legislation in more than a dozen states say their intent is to give consumers more information about what they’re eating.
Genetically modified food includes products altered to resist pesticides or improve nutritional content. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says genetically modified foods pose no greater health risks than traditional foods, and opponents of labeling rules say packaging costs would rise for no particular reason because no health hazard has been found.
Organic farmers say they stand to benefit from better informed consumers who may reject genetically modified products and instead choose organic food.
“It’s part of what the organic food industry needs to keep moving forward,” said Albert Straus, founder and president of the Straus Family Creamery, an organic dairy in Petaluma, California.
He does not use genetically modified feed for his herd, and said growth hormones in cows were halted by consumer opposition.
“It was consumers who made the change, not industry or government,” Straus said.
Several organic growers say their business has benefited for years from increased consumer scrutiny of agribusiness and rising demand for locally grown food. Many are now ratcheting up the pressure, lobbying in 18 states for laws that would require labeling of genetically modified food, partly to establish a bright line between their products and those of big growers.
“The consumer for the most part doesn’t even know what genetically engineered crops are,” said Ray McEnroe, owner of McEnroe Organic Farm in Millerton, New York. “This would be more of an education for them.”
Connecticut lawmakers were the first to advance a measure out of a committee last month, but were careful to avoid taking sides in the argument about whether genetically modified food has an impact on health. Legislators instead said they want only to provide more consumer information.