By Kelly White
Palos Hills aldermen voted unanimously last week to adopt a resolution that supports mandatory labeling of some genetically engineered food products, in Illinois.
The resolution will be sent to state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-35, Evergreen Park), the city’s representative in the Illinois House of Representatives.
The issue of labeling genetically modified (GMO) foods was brought to the council last month by Food and Water Watch volunteer Gerri Kathan, who has been circulating petitions in the area with the hope of eventually putting the matter to referendum in Illinois. GMO foods are derived from certain plants and fish that have had changes introduced into their DNA through genetic engineering.
“The public has the right to know what they are buying and consuming on a regular basis,” Kathan said. “Anything less is misleading and leaves consumers in the dark about the food that they’re eating.”
The resolution states: “Genetically engineered foods may pose a risk to human health and genetically engineered grown crops can pose a risk to conventional agriculture and the environment. Whereas the risk to public health and the risk to the environment caused by the production and consumption of genetically engineered foods are unknown, the federal government has not taken necessary action to ensure the safety of genetically engineered food products.”
“Genetically engineered foods have been introduced into the marketplace for consumption by the general public, and the sale and consumption of genetically engineered food items continues to increase,” Palos Hills Alderman Joe Marrotta (4th Ward) said. “We urge that action be taken by the governor and legislator of the state of Illinois making it mandatory, in all cases, to label all food items as having been genetically engineered if those items were produced in any fashion by such means.”
Genetically engineered foods have been part of the American diet since the 1990s, when farmers began growing corn and other crops with seeds that are genetically engineered to repel pests or withstand certain herbicides. An estimated 80 percent of packaged foods sold in the United States including cereal, cookies and soda contain GMOs, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.