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Fairbanks, Alaska Council Backs Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

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

FAIRBANKS-Mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods now has the support of both local Fairbanks governments.

By a 5-1 vote Monday night, the Fairbanks City Council passed a resolution in support of labeling requirements for food containing GMOs, organisms that have been genetically engineered for characteristics such as faster growth or pest resistance. Critics of GMOs, such as the Alaska group GMO Free Alaska, have expressed concerns that GMOs could be unhealthy or could limit biodiversity.

Like a similar resolution passed last summer by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the city resolution does not force food manufactures to put labels on foods with GMO ingredients. Instead it encourages the state and national governments to require labels on GMO foods, including the many processed foods that use genetically modified corn or soybeans.

At Monday's city council meeting, a GMO resolution sponsored by Bernard Gatewood had the support of everyone except Councilman Lloyd Hilling.

Hilling asked several audience members who came to testify in support of the resolution what scientific studies their opposition to GMOs was based on. When it came to vote, he said they hadn't provided enough evidence that GMOs were harmful.

"Is there a danger in GMO? I've inquired, I've asked the several people who gave testimony here to night for sources or merely the names of the studies that were done," Hilling said. "Everybody said it's been proven but I haven't yet gotten a source except 'the rats that are dying in France.' To me it's very important to behave in a scientific manner when we're going to have the government do things."

Stacy Pearson, a Fairbanks resident and member of GMO Free Alaska, said Tuesday that the most compelling evidence is a growth in food allergies she's noticed as GMO foods have become more prevalent.  
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