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Organic Consumers Association

Organic Farmers Hope for Boost with Rivals' Products Labeled as GMO

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HARTFORD, Conn.-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, Calif.

He does not use genetically modified feed for his herd, and said growth hormones in cows were halted by consumer opposition. 


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