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Advocacy Group Pushes For Statewide GMO Label Law

By Michelle Roberts, WBZ-TV
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CBS Boston (con't)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Ilana Lerman of Jamaica Plain now steers clear of some of her favorite foods, like granola bars.

“Chances are they probably are GMO products. So, I don’t eat that anymore,” she said.

GMOs are genetically modified organisms. Plant DNA is manipulated to ward off disease and boost food supplies.

You won’t find “GMO” on the label but if corn, soybean, or canola oil is an ingredient, it’s likely GMO, unless it’s organic.

“It takes a lot of effort to cut those packaged foods out of your diet,” says Lerman.

A health crisis made Ilana and her family think twice about the foods they were eating.

“Six years ago my father was diagnosed with a pretty rare cancer. So, as a family we started looking at food a lot. This topic of GMO’s started coming up a lot,” she said.

Ilana is now part of Mass Right To Know. The group is pushing for a statewide GMO label law. Here in Massachusetts, there are five separate proposals being considered on Beacon Hill related to GMO disclosure.

So far, only Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO label laws, but they only take effect if four nearby states enact similar legislation.

Some want more than a label. Dr. Michelle Perro is part of a campaign asking General Mills to remove genetically altered ingredients from Cheerios.

“We have lots of clinical research that’s showing us there are profound health effects in animals fed GMO’s,” Dr. Perro said.

According to the FDA, foods with GMO’s “must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation worries labels would mislead consumers about food safety. And they say GMO’s are “an important tool for farmers to improve yield and profitability.”

Still many shoppers just want to know what they’re eating.

“We deserve to have the knowledge of what we are putting in our bodies,” says Lerman.

Some companies are not waiting for a label law. Even though Kashi campaigned against a GMO label initiative in California, the company says half of its products will have “Non-GMO” labels by 2015.

Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s says all of its ice cream will be GMO-free by next summer. And Whole Foods has committed to GMO labels in its store by 2018.

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