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Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Labeling genetically modified foods in Washington

It makes sense

An ear of genetically altered corn waits to be harvested in Illinois.[Scott Olson/Getty Images.]

An ear of genetically altered corn waits to be harvested in Illinois.[Scott Olson/Getty Images.]

What’s the fuss about labeling foods containing genetically engineered organisms? [“Initiative 522: the cases for and against labeling GMO food,” Opinion, Sept. 22.]

The process of plant-genetic engineering is different from traditional plant-hybrid breeding to obtain a desired trait. Genetic engineering forcefully introduces foreign-gene fragments into plant cells to create a new trait.

One pro for genetic-engineering techniques is that the trait can be obtained in weeks or months, unlike the years required for conventional breeding. A con is that hidden changes may occur in the plant cells due to the excess foreign-gene fragments. Some people exhibit allergic reactions to foods containing genetically engineered crop products.

Foods already carry a nutritional label with ingredients such as trans-fats, artificial dyes and sweeteners, preservatives and warnings for other allergens. Labeling genetically engineered foods is a logical approach to alleviate the food-associated problems in sensitive people.

Genetically engineered food labeling is required in 64 countries. Many U.S. food manufacturers already provide genetically engineered food labeling for export to those countries. The system of labeling is in place now.

If Initiative 522 passes, it may actually be beneficial for manufacturers because they can have common labeling and streamline their products’ packaging

Toyoko Tsukuda, Richland

0 Comments | More in Business, Food/nutrition, Politics | Topics: food manufacturers, genetically engineered foods, gmo

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