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DesMoinesRegister(Iowa)

October19,2007Friday
DESMOINESEdition

LabelsonalteredfoodhotlydebatedinIowa
BYLINE:LAVIGNEPAULA
SECTION:MAINNEWSPg.1A
LENGTH:1148words
ByPAULALAVIGNE
REGISTERSTAFFWRITER
Iowaisplayingcenterstageinaglobaldebateoverwhetherpeopleshouldbewarned
whenthegeneticmakeupoftheirfoodhasbeenaltered.
Anationaladvocacygroupbelievesconsumerswoulddemandthatgeneticallymodified
foodsbelabelediftheyknewjusthowmuchisbeingchangedinlabs.TheCampaignto
LabelGeneticallyEngineeredFoodsispushingpresidentialcandidatestosupportmaking
labelingthelawwithsomesuccess.
LeadingDemocratsHillaryClinton
andJohnEdwardsagreetotheorganization's
proposal,asdocandidatesBillRichardsonandDennisKucinich.TopRepublican
candidateshavenottakenpositions.
"Wewanttomakefoodsafetyadefiningissueofthiselection,"saidAnneDietrich,the
Fairfield,Ia.basedexecutivedirectorofthecampaign."Oncethisbecomesthelawof
theland,thenMonsanto,Syngenta,KraftandKellogg's
willreformulatetheir
products.Iowaisthebestplacetostart."
Butthegroup'seffortshavemetresistancefromIowaindustryleadersandglobal
expertsingeneticengineering.ManyofthemaregatheredinDesMoinesthisweekfor
theWorldFoodPrize,aneventthathonorsinnovationsinincreasingtheworld'sfood
supply.
WhileDietrichandhersupportersarguethatgeneticallyengineeredfoodsthreaten
humanhealthandtheenvironment,biotechnologyleaderssaythefoodsaresafeand
vitaltofeedingtheworld,especiallyamidgrowingdemandforcropbasedbiofuels.
JamesGreenwood,aspeakerattheeventandpresidentoftheBiotechnologyIndustry
Organization,saidopponentsofgeneticengineeringusescaretactics.
"Theyhopebyusingthesescaretacticstheycanpersuadepolicymakerstoalter
labeling,andtheycanusethelabeltodrivepeopleaway."
Althoughyearsofdebatehaveyieldednopublicconsensusontheissue,onethingis
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certain:GeneticengineeringormodificationincreasinglyaffectsIowansatthesupper
tableandinthefield.Ninetyfourpercentofsoybeansand78percentofcornplantedin
Iowaaregeneticallyengineeredvarieties,accordingtotheU.S.Departmentof
Agriculture.
ThosewhomodifythefoodsuseDNAtotakeatraitfromonespeciesandintroduceit
intothegenesofanother.Theprocesscanmakeaspeciesgrowbetter,yieldmoreor
resistpestsanddisease.
PriorattemptsinCongressbyOhioRep.DennisKucinichtopasssimilarlegislation
requiringlabelshavefailed.Butsupportersoflabelingbelievethiselectionyearis
different.RecentconcernsaboutfoodsafetyintheUnitedStates,theysay,createan
opportunitytoinjectgeneticengineeringintothepresidentialdebatesandcreate
consumersupport.
YetGreenwoodcautionedcandidatesagainsttrashinggeneticsinfrontoffarmers,who
profitfromgeneticallyengineeredcrops.
"Iwouldn'twanttobeapresidentialcandidategoingintoIowa...andextollingthe
virtuesoflabelingtheircorninawaythatmightmakeconsumersnotwanttobuyit,"he
said.
PerhapstheworstbiotechblackeyeintheUnitedStateshappenedin2000,when
Aventis'StarLinkcornwasfoundintacoshells.Theincidentpromptedanationwide
recallandcausedfarmersandothersinthegrainindustrytolosemoney.
ThegeneticallyengineeredStarLinkwasallowedinanimalfeed,butitwasnotapproved
forhumanfoodbecauseofconcernsitcouldtriggerallergicreactions.Federalregulators
neverprovedthatitdid.
Infact,biotechleaderssaynostudieshaveevershowntheirfoodstobedangerousto
consumerhealth.Theindustry,theysay,hasstoppedusingantibioticsingenework
becauseofconcernsaboutpeopledevelopingimmunity.
Opponentssaystudieshaveshownthatgeneticallymodifiedfoodsexposepeopletonew
allergiesandgeneratenewtoxins.
FairfieldattorneyStevenDrukersaidthegovernmentallowsgeneticallymodifiedfoodon
themarketwithoutadequatetestingtodetermineitstruerisk.DrukersuedtheFDAto
releasefilesthathesaysshowhowagencybureaucratssilencedgovernmentscientists
whodoubtgeneticengineering.
"Thesefoodsarenottobepresumedsafe,"hesaid,addingtheyshouldn'tbeonthe
marketwithorwithoutalabel.
Thetwocampsalsowieldduelingresearchinotherrelatedareas:
Opponentsblamegeneticengineeringforruininghabitatandkillingoffcertainanimals
andinsects,includingthemonarchbutterfly,androbbingthesoilofnutrients.Biotech
leadersdisputethoseclaimsandsaygeneticallyengineeredcropsactuallyhelpthe
environmentbecausetheylessentheneedforpesticides.
Proponentssaygeneticengineeringcreatesreliablecropsthatcangrowinpartsofthe
ThirdWorldandotherareaswhereit'sdifficulttofarm,andprovidemoresuitableand
nutritiousfoodforimpoverishedfamilies.Opponentssaythatbetterdistributionoffood
couldhelppoorfamiliesinothercountries,andthatthebenefitsofgrowingalteredcrops
don'toutweighthelongtermrisks.
Astudywarcontinues,withbothsidesallegingthatexistingresearchisflawed,biased
orincomplete.
TheU.S.FoodandDrugAdministrationhasdeemedgeneticallyengineeredfoodssafe.
Accordingtoitsrules,"theremustbesomethingtangiblydifferentaboutthefood

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Accordingtoitsrules,"theremustbesomethingtangiblydifferentaboutthefood
productnottheprocessbywhichit'smadefortheFDAtorequirelabeling."
TomWest,vicepresidentinbiotechaffairswithPioneerHiBredInternational,contends
thatgeneticallyengineeredfoodsare"themosttestedfoodsinthehistoryofmankind."
"There'snotasingledocumentedcaseofanillnessorallergicreactiontoabiotech
food,"hesaid.
Governmentsrequirelabelsinotherpartsoftheworld,includingEurope,where
consumersaremoreopposedtogeneticallymodifiedfood.
AlthoughgeneticallyengineeredfoodsintheUnitedStateslacklabels,somecompanies
havechosentomarketfoodsas"GMOfree."ConsumersalsocanlookfortheUSDA
"organic"labelbecausegeneticmodificationisbannedinorganicfood.
LeighaBitz,aWestDesMoinesjewelrydesignerwhoblogsaboutbuyingorganicfoodfor
hertwoyoungchildren,believesgeneticallymodifyingfoodrobsitofitsnatural
nourishment.
"Goddidn'tmakeitthatway,"shesaid."Everythingweputinourbodiesgetsbroken
downbyourbodiesinspecialways.Ifyouchangeitsmolecularstructure,it'snotgoing
toworkaswell."
About60percentofAmericansdon'tbelievetheyhaveeatengeneticallyengineered
food,eventhoughalmosteveryAmericanhas,accordingtoastudydonelastyearby
thePewInitiativeonFoodandBiotechnology.
Thesamesurveyshowedthat46percentofrespondentswereopposedtogenetically
engineeredfoods,whichisdownfromahighof58percentin2001(followingthe
StarLinkincident).And54percentsaidtheywereunlikelytoeatfoodsthathadbeen
geneticallymodified.
ReporterPaulaLavignecanbereachedat(515)7453428orplavigne@dmreg.com

LANGUAGE:ENGLISH
PUBLICATIONTYPE:Newspaper
JOURNALCODE:des
SUBJECT:BIOTECHNOLOGY&GENETICSCIENCE(93%)GENETICENGINEERING
(91%)BIOTECHNOLOGYINDUSTRY(90%)POLITICALCANDIDATES(90%)
GENETICALLYMODIFIEDFOOD(90%)USPRESIDENTIALCANDIDATES2008(90%)
SCIENCENEWS(89%)PRODUCTSAFETY(89%)USPRESIDENTIALELECTIONS
(89%)SCIENCE&TECHNOLOGY(89%)FOODSAFETY(89%)HEADSOF
GOVERNMENTELECTIONS(89%)USREPUBLICANPARTY(78%)LEGISLATION(78%)
POLITICALDEBATES(78%)PUBLICPOLICY(78%)USDEMOCRATICPARTY(78%)
DNA(78%)GENES&CHROMOSOMES(78%)GENETICALLYMODIFIEDCROPS(78%)
AGRICULTURALBIOTECHNOLOGY(78%)OUTPUT&DEMAND(77%)FOODINDUSTRY
(77%)ASSOCIATIONS&ORGANIZATIONS(77%)PRODUCTLABELING(77%)
BUSINESS&PROFESSIONALASSOCIATIONS(77%)POLITICALPARTIES(76%)
CAMPAIGNS&ELECTIONS(76%)EXECUTIVES(74%)AGRICULTUREDEPARTMENTS
(72%)USPRESIDENTIALCANDIDATES2016(71%)AGRICULTURE(69%)BIOFUELS
(64%)
COMPANY:KELLOGGCO(91%)SYNGENTAAG(56%)MONSANTOCO(56%)
ORGANIZATION:BIOTECHNOLOGYINDUSTRYORGANIZATION(54%)
TICKER:K(NYSE)(91%)SYT(NYSE)(56%)SYNN(SWX)(56%)MON(NYSE)(56%) 3/4
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TICKER:K(NYSE)(91%)SYT(NYSE)(56%)SYNN(SWX)(56%)MON(NYSE)(56%)
INDUSTRY:NAICS311412FROZENSPECIALTYFOODMANUFACTURING(91%)
NAICS311230BREAKFASTCEREALMANUFACTURING(91%)SIC2052COOKIES&
CRACKERS(91%)SIC2043CEREALBREAKFASTFOODS(91%)SIC2038FROZEN
SPECIALTIES,NEC(91%)NAICS424910FARMSUPPLIESMERCHANTWHOLESALERS
(56%)NAICS325320PESTICIDE&OTHERAGRICULTURALCHEMICALMANUFACTURING
(56%)SIC5191FARMSUPPLIES(56%)SIC2879PESTICIDES&OTHER
AGRICULTURALCHEMICALS(56%)
PERSON:HILLARYRODHAMCLINTON(79%)JOHNEDWARDS(58%)BILL
RICHARDSON(58%)DENNISKUCINICH(56%)
CITY:DESMOINES,IA,USA(78%)
STATE:IOWA,USA(95%)MIDWESTUSA(79%)Iowa
COUNTRY:UNITEDSTATES(95%)
REGION:Midwest
LOADDATE:October20,2007

Copyright2007TheDesMoinesRegister
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