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October 11, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Science, GMOs and Initiative 522

 

Donna Grethen / Tribune Content Agency

Donna Grethen / Tribune Content Agency

Seattle geneticist Max Moehs is uneasy about Washington’s Initiative 522, which would require labeling of foods with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

On its face, Initiative 522 is a labeling law so that people know what’s in their food. But GE is not an ingredient. It is a process. “Labeling a crop ‘genetically engineered’ is like labeling it, ‘Grown on Irrigated Land,’ ” Moehs says. Or for organic food, labeling it, “Grown in Manure.”

“What’s important is what’s in the plant, not how it was created,” Moehs says.

Of course Moehs (pronounced “mays”), 51, is an interested party. He the principal scientist at the Seattle labs of Arcadia Biosciences, based in Davis, Calif. Moehs has just won a $2-million grant from the National Institutes of Health. It is his second such grant to develop a strain of low-gluten wheat. His partner on this grant is Karl Sestak, associate professor of microbiology at Tulane University in New Orleans; the partner on his previous grant was Diter von Wettstein of Washington State University.

Gluten is the protein in flour that traps the bubbles of air that make bread dough rise. About 1 percent of the population has celiac disease and can’t eat gluten and another 6 percent can eat restricted

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Comments | Topics: ge, genetically modified organism, gmo