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[whitespace] The Right to Know

By Greg Cahill

GLEN ELLEN organic farmer Bob Cannard has launched a petition drive to place an initiative on the November ballot that would require the food industry to label all products containing bioengineered foods.

The California Right to Know/Genetically Engineered Food Initiative organizers must collect 413,000 valid signatures by Feb. 20 for the measure to qualify.

"We wrote this initiative because we believe people have a fundamental right to know whether the foods they purchase and consume have been genetically engineered," he wrote in the iniative's website. "There are a variety of personal, ethical, and medical considerations that make this information necessary."

According to Cannard, surveys show that 81-93 percent of the American public supports the labeling of genetically altered foods.

If passed, the law would require retailers to clearly label all produce and meats resulting from genetic engineering. Those products are defined as crops and livestock containing genetic material transferred from one species to another, or DNA modifications not commonly possible under natural conditions, such as cell fusion, gene deletion or doubling, and induced sequence or encapsulation variations.

Historical breeding techniques such as hybridization through mass selection, controlled crossing, line breeding, and back crossing are not considered to be genetic engineering.

The initiative organizers claim that they are not opposed to bioengineering of foods, but that the public has the right to know what is in the foods.

People interested in the November ballot initiative petition can contact the California Right to Know/Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Initiative, P.O. Box 520, Glen Ellen, CA, 95442; call 939-8316, or visit the website at www.calrighttoknow.org.

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From the December 16-22, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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