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GMO food-label vote may have consequences in Congress

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

 WASHINGTON - If Washington voters ratify Initiative 522 next week, the biggest changes may go beyond the state's grocery shelves, where food products that contain genetically engineered ingredients would be labeled as such.

Reverberations also may reach Washington, D.C.

It's been 14 years since U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., first introduced legislation to require labeling for genetically engineered (GE) foods. Now initiative supporters and pro-labeling lawmakers see the Washington vote as a potential catalyst for federal regulations.

Passage of I-522 is "the best chance we have to put the issue in play in Congress," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., lead author of a mandatory-labeling bill, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.

DeFazio's bill and a companion Senate version reintroduced by Boxer are languishing in committees. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, is the only member of the state's congressional delegation to co-sponsor either bill.

Lawmakers in 24 states have introduced bills that would require labeling or banning genetically engineered foods. Two other states, Maine and Connecticut, have passed labeling laws, but the rules won't go into effect unless surrounding states also adopt mandatory disclosure.   

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