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Oregon Could Ban Genetically Engineered Fish, Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

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

SALEM -- Oregon could become the first state in the nation to require the labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients under several bills in the Legislature.

State lawmakers are considering at least eight bills on genetically modified food labeling, fish and crops. Several bills would require foods produced with genetically engineered materials to be labeled. Others bills would prohibit importing or cultivating genetically engineered fish. Three other bills would place restrictions on the planting of genetically modified crops and require manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds to be held liable for damages to neighboring crops.

"I think consumers have a right to know and make their own decisions about these foods," said Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, who is sponsoring several of the bills on genetically modified labeling and fish.

The battle over genetically modified -- or engineered -- organisms and their safety for farming and consumption has long been a hot topic. Proponents of the bills say consumers should know what they eat, and they fear contamination of native fish stocks and organic produce and seeds. Opponents say that genetically modified foods are scientifically proven to be safe and that requiring special labeling will stigmatize the foods and cost consumers more.

Lawmakers in at least 12 other states are considering requirements for the labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients, according to the Center for Food Safety, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that supports the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

California voters in November narrowly rejected Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of genetically engineered food. A Washington ballot initiative proposes similar labeling requirements. The Washington Legislature could adopt the measure or let voters decide in November.   
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