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Seeking Support, Biotech Food Companies Pledge Transparency

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

With pressure growing to label genetically modified foods, the developers of biotechnology crops are starting a campaign to gain support for their products by promising new openness.

The centerpiece of the effort is a Web site that is expected to go into operation on Monday to answer virtually any question posed by consumers about genetically engineered crops. The site, GMOAnswers.com, is also expected to include safety data about the crops similar to that submitted to regulatory agencies.

"We have not done a very good job communicating about G.M.O.'s," or genetically modified organisms, said Cathleen Enright, executive director of the Council for Biotechnology Information, which will run the site. "We want to get into the conversation."

The council's members include Monsanto and five other big crop biotechnology and agricultural chemical companies - Dow Chemical, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience and BASF.

While there has been opposition to genetically engineered crops since they were introduced in the 1990s, the Internet has allowed critical voices to be heard more loudly. Hundreds of thousands of people in cities around the world marched in protest of Monsanto in May, an outpouring organized largely through social media.

In the United States, numerous states are considering legislation that would require foods made from genetically engineered corn, soybeans or other crops to be labeled. Connecticut recently enacted such legislation, and a similar bill in Maine is awaiting the governor's signature. In both bills, the labeling requirement would not take effect until several other states have enacted similar mandates.       


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