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Genetically Engineered Food Blurs Party Lines At Idaho Capitol

A view of the Idaho State Capitol from Downtown Boise
A view of the Idaho State Capitol from Downtown Boise

The Idaho legislature approved a resolution Friday on genetically engineered food.

It doesn’t actually create a labeling system, but says the Idaho legislature wants the federal government to step in and create uniform, voluntary labels for genetically engineered foods.

During the floor debate in the Senate, North Idaho Republican Mary Souza stood up to say she would support the measure, but with one caveat.

“I have a problem with line 12 in this document,” she said.

The line says foods produced with genetically engineered ingredients are as safe to eat as foods produced without them.

“I have a problem with that because that has not been established science yet,” Souza explained.

Boise Democrat Grant Burgoyne expressed the same view on the Senate floor and both Republicans and Democrats in the House had similar complaints.

The measure’s Republican sponsors cite findings on the safety of genetically engineered food by the World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, Health Canada and other groups and government agencies.

The resolution passed both houses of the Idaho legislature, with a mixture of support.

Farmers in Idaho say they want a national labeling system to avoid a patchwork of state labeling requirements. Idaho’s resolution was partly the result of labeling initiatives in Washington and Oregon that nearly passed.

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