Senator Jon Tester is backing bipartisan legislation that requires genetically engineered foods to be labeled so Montana families know where their food comes from.
Tester, a farmer from Big Sandy, is joining with more than 90 percent of consumers in calling for increased food transparency. Genetically engineered foods, which can include corn and soybeans, have had genes from other plants or animals inserted into their genetic codes.
Tester's bill, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, will establish a consistent and enforceable labeling standard for genetically engineered foods.
"American families shouldn't have to play a guessing game when it comes to the food they put on their kitchen tables," Tester said. "Consumers have a right to know where their food comes from, and this bill gives them the tools they need to make informed decisions about the foods they choose."
Despite labeling more than 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has traditionally resisted labels for genetically modified foods. But Tester says the FDA's labeling policy has not kept pace with modern food technologies that allow for a wide range of genetic and molecular changes to food.
Genetically engineering food may make it more resistant to diseases or insects, but it can lead to weeds that can withstand important herbicides. It has also led to a massive consolidation in the seed industry, and it can modify plants or animals in unexpected and harmful ways.
Tester, an organic farmer, gained widespread attention earlier this year after he slammed the inclusion of two provisions in a must-pass funding bill that will benefit large meatpacking corporations and companies that develop genetically modified crops at the expense of family farmers and ranchers.
Tester is also telling the FDA that it must conduct a more thorough review of genetically engineered salmon to make sure the product is safe for consumers and the environment.