Lawmakers want to require labels for foods containing GMOs

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX-- A group of state lawmakers is proposing a measure that would require manufacturers to label some genetically engineered foods.

Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe is heading the effort. 

"My concern is that you are consuming genetically modified organisms and are unaware of it, and it's almost a shame that you don't have more information about what you're putting in your body," Mendez said.

House Bill 2462 seeks to label foods that contain GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

"This is taking the genes of either other food, animals, bacteria and injecting them into the food you eat," said Rep. Mendez.

The east Valley lawmaker knows this is sure to set off a major food fight, considering people have strong opinions when it comes to whether GMOs are safe for consumption.

However, he told 3TV Tuesday afternoon the goal of the bill is simply to provide consumers with information about what is in their food.

"I just want there to be a label so that you have a decision to make," he said.

To begin with, though, he is only seeking the labeling for certain agricultural products. But labeling GMO foods is not all the legislation would do.

"This is also consumer protection in that I want to stop the labeling of food that is labeled natural or all-natural if it has genetically modified ingredients," Mendez said.

3TV asked consumers what they thought about the proposed legislation. Their feelings varied.

"If you think about it, everybody needs to know what they're taking into their body," said Michael Laughlin.

"A lot of greater things in life to worry about than whether food came from a cow that had vitamins or not, or growth hormones," said Jeff Roberts.

One thing that did come up repeatedly was concern over what this legislation could mean for their grocery bill.

"I guess more information is always good. But sometimes it comes at a cost, if it costs more to get the food when you have to spend too much money making the label," Wayne Troutman said.

Rep. Mendez does not believe there will be an increased cost to manufacturers in order to add the information to the label.