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Some Wash. Wheat Farmers Throw Support Behind Required Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering pageMillions Against Monsanto page, Genetically Modified Wheat Resource Center page, and our Washington News page.
YAKIMA, Wash. - Some Washington state wheat farmers have thrown their support behind legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified foods, giving food safety advocates fresh hope that lawmakers also will get behind the bill.

They haven't been receptive to the idea in the past, and lawmakers at the national level and in more than a dozen states have rejected similar proposals in the past year.

But in an unusual pairing, a handful of Washington wheat farmers have joined so-called "foodies" to back the latest bill, fearing exports will be hurt if and when genetically modified wheat gains federal approval. The U.S. exports half of its wheat, and in Washington, the only bigger export is Boeing Co.'s airplanes.

Biotechnology giants Monsanto and Syngenta have announced plans to begin testing genetically modified wheat, though the product is likely a decade or more from being offered commercially.

Resistance from the European Union and Japan led Monsanto to abandon similar efforts in 2004. Pacific Rim countries haven't historically been friendly to genetically modified products, and they remain the biggest buyers of Washington wheat.