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Pennsylvania Groups Call for Labeling GMO Foods

This Saturday, several Pennsylvania cities join GMO protests planned in 36 countries on six continents. (Rosalee Yagihara/Wikimedia Commons)
This Saturday, several Pennsylvania cities join GMO protests planned in 36 countries on six continents. (Rosalee Yagihara/Wikimedia Commons)
May 20, 2016

PHILADELPHIA - "Four simple words": That's what consumer advocates say they want to see on foods containing genetically modified organisms. On Saturday in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other cities around the state, groups are holding what they call a "March Against Monsanto" -- one of the largest producers of genetically modified crop seeds.

Karen Stark, co-founder of the group GMO Free PA," wants labels on these foods to contain the words "produced with genetic engineering."

"People should know how their food is being produced so they can determine that they want to consume it or not," she said.

The food industry has insisted that GMOs are safe. It has vigorously opposed legislation across the country that would require labeling GMO products, saying that would raise prices and confuse consumers.

However, Stark said companies change the print on their labeling all the time without necessarily raising prices. The label her group is asking for probably would appear somewhere on the back of food packaging along with the list of ingredients. She noted that it isn't a warning.

"It's not saying that it's unsafe, it's not saying that it's safe," she said. "It is a scientific fact that that is what happened to the plant that is in that product."

Sixty-four countries around the world require labeling of genetically modified foods. GMO labeling bills have been introduced in several states and have passed in Maine and Connecticut, but those won't go into effect until a neighboring state has a similar law. Stark said one state does have a law that's set to go into effect July 1.

"Here's Vermont - one of the smallest states in the union - that passed that legislation," she said, "and now we're seeing national companies that are coming out with on-pack labeling."

The Saturday marches are part of a coordinated series of marches against genetically modified foods, taking place in 250 cities around the world.

More information is online at

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA