GMO legislation: "People have a right to know what they're eating"

2:56 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - Do you want to know if the food you buy has been genetically modified?

A Florida lawmaker thinks you should have the right to know what you put in your body.

State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, has filed legislation that would require companies to label any food products that have been genetically modified.

She says many more consumers want that information because they're concerned the products can damage their health.

Rehwinkel Vasilinda says she has received 1,500 petitions from people who want the government to mandate labeling for GMO products.

Opponents argue there is no evidence of any health risks from genetically altered foods.

Rehwinkel Vasilinda calls it a consumer issue, saying her bill would help people make informed decisions on what they put into their bodies.

"I think people have a right to know what they're eating. You have an intimate relationship with food. You put it in your body. It's there to nourish you. We have a lot of health issues that are bubbling up to the surface in this country and I think that people are more and more aware of what they're eating and what they want to eat."

Rehwinkel Vasilinda also calls it a free market issue. She thinks consumers should determine the demand for foods that are genetically altered and those that aren't.

"Let's let people compete in the marketplace. It's the American way. Companies that genetically engineer their food products, let them compete on that level. Companies that don't genetically engineer their food products, let people make a market decision and purchase what food they want."

Rehwinkel Vasilinda filed a similar bill earlier this year but it did not get a hearing in the Legislature.

She thinks the bill's prospects will be better next year because some food businesses are already going ahead with GMO labeling on their own. Plus, she says 61 countries require such labeling, including those in the European Union, Japan, and Australia.