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Food Labeling Drive Underway for November Ballot


Voters may get to decide if they want to know whether their breakfast cereal is made with genetically modified corn. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

An initiative drive would require a label on any foods sold in the state which contain genetically modified ingredients. It also would force labeling of meat which has been fed with GMOs. Organizer Jared Keen said people have a right to know if what they’re eating is made from or contains genetically modified organisms. But, Julie Murphree of the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation said putting a GMO label on things might indicate to some there’s a reason for caution.

“For me personally, it’s not a right to know. It’s a right to create doubt in the minds and the hearts of our consumers. And we scare people enough with all the other things they have to worry about,” Murphree said.

Murphree said farmers have been genetically modifying crops for 1,000 years. That includes cross-breeding and even domestication of crops, turning what at one time was a little more than a grass into what we know today as corn. But Keen said that’s telling only half the story.

“Splicing two plants together and giving them a chance to cultivate and grow and see what becomes of them has been part of what we’ve been doing for centuries. This is taking the gene of a non-plant item and basically shooting it into the gene of the corn,” Keen said.

Backers have until July 3 to get nearly 173,000 valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.

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