Pa. could be first to require labels on genetically modified food

    Pennsylvania could follow in the footsteps of Whole Foods if one state lawmaker’s idea to require labels on genetically engineered foods takes root.

    Whole Foods became the first national grocery store chain in the country to say it will label all products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in its stores in the U.S. and Canada by 2018.

    A state Senate proposal would require the same of food manufacturers and distributors selling products in the commonwealth.

    Would address nutritional concerns

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    The labeling would help those who have health and nutritional concerns about foods that have been altered using biotechnology, as well as those who question the business of GMOs, says Jon McGoran with the Weavers Way Cooperative in Philadelphia.

    “There’re all sorts of indirect concerns about the GMO industry and, frankly, consumers want to know if they’re supporting that or not,” McGoran said Tuesday.

    Sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) says it’s an effort to provide consumers with more information, not prevent the sale of genetically engineered foods.

    Leach points out companies would be quick to change their policies, instead of just tailoring their products for Pennsylvania law.

    “Historically, once a big consumer, an important state, often California, but other states, do something like this, we see that become the industry standard,” Leach said. “It’s just easier for them to do that across the board than it is to go state by state and ship different products into different states.”

    His proposal has just one Republican co-sponsor, but a spokesman for the Senate GOP says the caucus is open to the idea.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says there is no difference between genetically engineered foods and organic foods, but the agency does not require safety studies to be done on genetically engineered foods.

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