State representatives in Arizona have proposed a measure that would require food manufacturers to label some genetically modified foods. Similar to Minnesota, Rhode Island, Indiana, and other states, at least Arizona lawmakers are listening to the people’s choice to have their food labeled as genetically modified when it contains biotech-altered ingredients.

Heading the effort is representative, Juan Mendez, a Democrat from Tempe, Arizona. He argues:

“My concern is that you are consuming genetically modified organisms and are unaware of it, and it’s almost a shame that you don’t have more information about what you’re putting in your body. This is taking the genes of either other food, animals, bacteria and injecting them into the food you eat.”

The initiative comes in the form of House Bill 2462. Mendez realizes that there will be hot contention from the presentation of the bill – especially from large food corporations. He understands thatthere are strong opinions on both sides of the GMO fence.

Mendez told  3TV last Tuesday afternoon that the goal of the bill is simply to provide consumers with information about what is in their food.

Considering that people who wish to continue eating GMOs could certainly do so if they are labeled, this seems a simple enough solution to the problem – but the real issue is not transparency, since a large majority of Americans have stated they don’t want to eat GMOs. Food makers know this, and are afraid to lose market share.

Mendez says, “I just want there to be a label so that you have a decision to make.”

But Mendez’s initiative isn’t ideal, since it only seeks to label certain agricultural products, but it is a step in the right direction. Mendez says:

“This is also consumer protection in that I want to stop the labeling of food that is labeled natural or all-natural if it has genetically modified ingredients.”

Consumers interviewed on 3TV were asked their opinions on the topic.

Michael Laughlin responded, “If you think about it, everybody needs to know what they’re taking into their body.”

On the other end of the spectrum are comments like those of Jeff Roberts, “A lot of greater things in life to worry about than whether food came from a cow that had vitamins or not, or growth hormones.”

Many consumers are concerned about what this will do to their grocery bills. For those who are unaware, the grocery Manufactuer’s Association (GMA) has gone to great lengths to claim that labeling food will cost consumers more, sine they will have to ‘pass the cost of labeling’ to them.

Wayne Troutman, another consumer, said:

“I guess more information is always good. But sometimes it comes at a cost, if it costs more to get the food when you have to spend too much money making the label.”

As Grist has pointed out:

“Monsanto, Dupont, other agribusinesses, and many food manufacturers — assert that food costs for the average family would increase by several hundred dollars a year [should GMO labeling be mandated]. Analysis of the assertion that food costs would rise reveals a great deal about the food companies and their views of the public. (It’s worth noting, as the Cry Wolf Project has documented, that business groups virtually always make the argument that costs will rise when they oppose regulatory measures.)”

Rep. Mendez does not believe there will be any added cost to consumers to require GMO labeling.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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