GMO Food Labeling: New Illinois Bill on Genetically Engineered Foods

GMO food labeling in Illinois may soon be a reality. State Senator Dave Koehler introduced a GMO food labeling bill on February 14, 2013.
Food and Water Watch volunteers try to educate public.

GMO food labeling did not die with the failed passing of prop 37 in California. Just yesterday there was another attempt to get genetically engineered foods labeled. This time the proposed legislation came in the form of an Illinois Senate Bill. This new GMO food labeling bill could expose previously hidden genetically engineered ingredients in processed foods made in the U.S. There is currently no law protecting consumers or tracking harmful side effects from genetically engineered foods.

On February 13, 2013, Illinois Senator Dave Koehler introduced  SB 1666. This bill would require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in Illinois. The legislation was drafted with the support of Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group. The bill is strongly supported by many national and local organizations. It also has high support among individuals, food cooperatives, organic farmers, and environmentalists.

“SB 1666 presents a tremendous opportunity to improve research and expand our understanding of GE crops and foods,” said Jessica Fujan, Illinois organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Labeling will give us the data we need to draw solid conclusions about genetically engineered foods. It will give consumers the ability to make fully informed decisions about what we are eating and feeding our families. Right now, the companies that stand to profit from genetic engineering are making those decisions for us.”

New Bill Could Expose Genetically Engineered Ingredients

GMO food labeling in Illinois may soon be a reality. State Senator Dave Koehler introduced a GMO food labeling bill on February 14, 2013.
Food & Water Watch educates public.

If passed, SB 1666 would require GMO food labeling in Illinois. All foods containing more than one percent genetically engineered ingredients would need to be labeled. If a plant or crop is altered in a scientific laboratory to include genes from any other plant or animal that could not happen naturally, GMO food labeling will be required. If your strawberries are made with fish DNA it will be labeled. If your corn has a soil bacteria living inside every bite you consume it will be labeled. You will no longer have to worry about eating the DNA of weeds, either. Since most processed foods contain some derivative of GE corn, soybean or cotton, they would require labeling under this law.

If you’d like a crash course on genetically engineered foods, please check out a quick 10 minute cartoon video about the need for GMO food labeling. It explains this issue fully.

Why should you support GMO food labeling in Illinois? Health risks associated with eating genetically engineered products are not fully understood. These altered foods are found in over 75% of all processed foods eating in the U.S. They are in your frozen foods, your bread, your cereal, your ice cream, candy, and anything with sugar.

Genetically engineered food first became available in 1996. Since then there has been no regulation by the U.S. government to make sure GMO food is safe for citizens to eat. Many government officials at the FDA come from the very same companies that profit greatly from genetically engineered food manufacturing. These companies are afraid of GMO food labeling. These companies submit their own safety testing data. In the U.S. there is no independent research because biotechnology companies prohibit it. We need to change this and support GMO food labeling in Illinois. Please contact your Illinois State Senator and voice your opinion. Tell him or her that you support GMO food labeling in Illinois.

Why Support GMO Food Labeling Bill in Illinois?

GMO food labeling is a key priority for Illinois watch groups like the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council. They represent urban and rural farmers and individuals supporting non GMO growing practices.

“The farmers and non-farmers among us are universally supportive of GE labeling. We work hard to grow good food and serve our families food that has not been genetically engineered. It’s our right as citizens to know what is in our food. In a democracy, corporations should not have special privileges that make it difficult for the average consumer to have transparency in what they consume,” said Erika Allen, urban farmer for Growing Power and President of the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council.

Find out what industrialized countries label genetically engineered food (GMO food).
The United States and Canada still lack federal laws that require GMO food labeling.

GMO food labeling is not new. The European Union sees the potential risks. They require all food, animal feed, and processed products with genetically engineered ingredients to have GMO food labeling. In fact, the EU is among nearly 50 developed countries that require the GE products they import from the US to be labeled. A 2012 Mellman Group Study in the US. showed that 91 percent of voters favored having the US. Food and Drug Administration require GMO food labeling.

Fujan contacted Healthy Family directly with an update about getting Chicago area support for GMO food labeling in Illinois.

Fujan says, ” The GE Labeling bill was introduced in the Senate on Thursday February 14 by the Chair of the Ag. and Conservation Committee, Dave Koehler.   Things have been slow in the Chicago City Council.  Alderman Bob Fioretti has committed to introducing a non-binding resolution that urges the state legislature to make GE Labeling the law.  Now that there is a bill to refer to, we hope to speed things along.  There are currently 9 Aldermen who support the resolution.”

How a Bill Becomes a Law in Illinois

How a Bill Becomes a Law in Illinois
Click on image to print out PDF file from the Illinois State Government website.

Tell the Chicago City Council to Support GE Labeling

If you are a Chicago resident and are concerned about eating genetically engineered food (GMO foods), please contact your alderman about it. The Food and Water Watch has made it an easy process. Instantly send a message by filling out an online petition for your Chicago alderman to support the labeling of genetically engineered foods in Illinois.

About Food and Water Watch

The Food and Water Watch environmental group works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.


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