Iowans call for GMO labeling in senate hearing
By Ken Roseboro
Published: April 30, 2013
Category: GM Food Labeling and Regulations
Farmers, agricultural consultants, representatives from environmental groups and a religious group, and concerned citizens recently called on the Iowa legislature to require labeling of genetically modified foods at a recent public hearing.
Bills to label GM foods were introduced in the Iowa legislature in February and March. Joe Bolkum, a senator from Iowa City, introduced the senate bill, SF 194, while nine Democratic state representatives introduced the house bill, HF 463. The bills were referred to committees but never voted on.
The hearing was held by the Iowa Senate Agriculture sub-committee to gauge public opinion about the bills. “We thought it would be easier to start with educating folks about it,” Bolkum told the Associated Press.
Senator Joe Seng, chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee, started the meeting by saying: “Polls show that 90% of Americans want the right to know.”
Howard Vlieger, co-founder of Verity Farms, spoke about harm to livestock fed GM feed and discussed a study showing dangerously high levels of glyphosate herbicide formaldehyde in GM corn samples.
“We need labeling to protect families. It’s time for the regulatory agencies to wake up,” Vlieger said.
Commenting on Vlieger’s testimony, Republican Senator Kent Sorensen said, “I support the (labeling) bill.”
Bob Streit, a consultant with Central Iowa Agronomics, said plant diseases such as Sudden Death Syndrome and Goss’s Wilt are linked to the increasing amounts of glyphosate/Roundup herbicide used on GM corn and soybeans.
Iowa farmer Scott Remington discussed increasing problems with glyphosate resistant weeds in Iowa. “I can attest that weed resistance is scary. We were told we would use less herbicides (with GM crops), but herbicide use has increased,” he said.
Naomi Sea Young Wittstruck, a representative with the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, discussed her church’s position on GMOs, which is that they should be tested for safety and labeled in the marketplace.
Concerned citizens spoke. Carolyn Walker of Des Moines said: “People blindly eat and drink GMOs. We need to be given a choice.” Sharon Donovan, also of Des Moines, said that Iowa’s rich fertile soil is dead due to GMOs and agricultural chemicals. “We should not only label GMOs, they should be outlawed,” she said.
Matt Ohloff, Iowa-based organizer with Food & Water Watch, said Iowa consumers deserve the right to know. He presented 2,000 signatures from Iowans supporting the labeling bills.
Kramer McLuckie, a representative with the Iowa Public Interest Research Group, said GMOs are an issue of concern to many Iowans. “We urge you to move forward (with the bill),” he said.
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