Supermarkets in New York State could soon be forced to label all genetically modified foods it carries on its shelves, as a bill in Albany would require so-called "GMO labeling" to bring New York in line with practices already embraced by three other states. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report for NY1.
Plenty of food contains ingredients that are genetically altered. Those products undergo genetic engineering which often involves combining the DNA of an unrelated species to create genetically modified organisms, or "GMOs." Such modifications are often found in oils, grains and beans to create desirable traits, such as resistance to certain herbicides and bacteria.
"Genetically modified foods have been introduced to the U.S. food supply. They've been there since 1996 without our knowledge or awareness. They have not been safety tested by our government," said Stacie Orell of GMO Free NY.
Whole Foods Market is already voluntarily labeling food that's been known to use biotechnology or genetic engineering.
"So in 2013, we made an announcement that company-wide, we'd be committing to GMO transparency, meaning that by 2018, all of the products in our stores will be clearly labeled as to whether they contain genetically modified ingredients or not," said Michael Sinatra of Whole Foods.
This week, a bill cleared an Assembly committee in Albany requiring GMO labeling in all stores that sell food products. The legislation has a Republican sponsor in the state Senate, but so far, the bill has not gotten out of committee in the upper house.
"This is purely a consumer right-to-know issue," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan. "There are people who think that GMOs cause cancer, and there are some studies about that, but this bill doesn't get into that. It's purely a consumer right-to-know issue."
The bill is opposed by the New York Association of Grocery Stores. Association officials declined to speak with NY1 but pointed toward a Cornell University study that concludes that GMO labeling will cost consumers more money, $500 more per year for the average New York family.
So far, Connecticut, Maine and Alaska are the three states that already require GMO labeling. On a global scale, however, the United States is actually well behind many of its trading partners, as entities such as China, Japan, India and the European Union already have similar labeling laws.
Originally published: NY1.