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Colorado lawmakers again reject GMO labels

Several said the federal government, not the states, should address labels on food items made or derived from genetically modified crops, known as GMOs

DENVER  | Labels on genetically modified foods have been rejected again by Colorado lawmakers. But the food-labeling debate could just be getting started for Colorado voters.

A House committee unanimously rejected a voluntary measure Thursday to give food producers the option of labeling food that doesn’t include genetically modified ingredients.

Beth McCann, Sue SchaferThe Food and Drug Administration already allows producers to voluntarily label their items as genetically engineered or not.

Lawmakers from both parties pointed out that if the optional labels were approved by the Legislature, the state would then have to penalize retailers that mislabeled foods — setting up possible fines and jail time.

Several said the federal government, not the states, should address labels on food items made or derived from genetically modified crops, known as GMOs.

“I think that would be better than doing it state by state,” said Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver.

Seventy percent of processed foods contain at least one GMO ingredient, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Currently, only Connecticut and Maine have laws requiring labels for genetically modified food. But those requirements won’t kick in until other states adopt their own rules.

Voters in California and Washington state rejected GMO-labeling measures over the last two years. Efforts are underway in Colorado to put up a similar ballot measure here.

One of the groups, Right To Know Colorado GMO, is currently gathering signatures to put up a ballot measure that would require foods with GMO ingredients to be labeled “PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING.”

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Online:

House Bill 1058: http://bit.ly/1fo1tIy

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