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GMOs

Genetically engineered crops are nothing new. But emerging technology that allows scientists to alter plants more precisely and cheaply is taking genetically engineered plants from the field to the kitchen.

The first version of the Arctic Apple, a genetically modified Golden Delicious, is headed for test markets in the Midwest in February, according to the company that produced it. It is the first genetically engineered apple, altered so that when it is cut, it doesn't turn brown from oxidation.

No-GMO food label
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Washington state officials are calling it the largest campaign-finance penalty in U.S. history.

A Thurston County Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay an $18 million fine for deliberately hiding its donors.

I did a little experiment the other day. I stood outside a Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C., with two cartons of large brown eggs. One carton had the words "Non-GMO Project Verified" on it, with a little orange butterfly. It also said cage-free. The other carton had a different label; a green and white circle with the words "USDA Organic." One other crucial difference: the organic carton cost 50 cents more.

I asked shoppers which carton they would buy.

The National Academy of Sciences — probably the country's most prestigious scientific group — has reaffirmed its judgment that GMOs are safe to eat. But the group's new report struck a different tone from previous ones, with much more space devoted to concerns about genetically modified foods, including social and economic ones.

If you snip a bit of DNA from a vegetable, but add no new genes, does that vegetable qualify as a genetically modified organism, or GMO?

You'll soon know whether many of the packaged foods you buy contain ingredients derived from genetically modified plants, such as soybeans and corn.

Over the past week or so, big companies including General Mills, Mars and Kellogg have announced plans to label such products – even though they still don't think it's a good idea.

Opponents of genetically engineered crops in Oregon want state lawmakers to allow local governments to ban those crops. The measure under consideration would reverse a bill approved during a special session less than three years ago.

You wouldn't think of calling a mosquito "man's best friend." But that's the nickname that biologist Denise Valle uses for Aedes aegypti, the species that's been spreading the Zika virus in Brazil and many other countries in Latin America.

I think "man's best enemy" might be better.

The thing is, this mosquito likes to live near humans.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn't see a need to require labeling for genetically engineered salmon. But Congress does.

In the federal spending package approved Friday, lawmakers directed the FDA to make sure the controversial new fish is labeled for consumers.

The Massachusetts-based company AquaBounty has engineered a fish that grows to market size faster than Atlantic farmed salmon.

Farmers challenging a Southern Oregon county’s voter-approved ban on genetically engineered crops have agreed to settle. If approved by the court, Oregon’s first countywide ban will have cleared a final legal hurdle.

Federal Bill Could Trump Oregon GMO Bans

Jul 23, 2015

Supporters of Jackson County’s proposed genetically-engineered crops ban were ecstatic when it was announced Measure 15-119 had passed by a two-to-one margin.

Organic farmer and campaign organizer Elise Higley said the vote was a strong statement of local values.

“I’m just so grateful that the community stepped up in supporting local farmers and showing that they really care about their food security and want to protect family farmers against the threats of genetically engineered pollen and crops,” she said.

An Idaho lawmaker and farmer said the state should press the federal government to establish a national labeling system for genetically engineered foods -- before states create their own.

Supporters of a food labeling measure in Oregon have conceded defeat, more than one month after the election.

The first statewide recount in more than six years is underway in Oregon. Elections workers Tuesday started hand-counting the more than 1.5 million votes cast for and against Measure 92.

It appears Oregon is headed for its first statewide ballot measure recount in more than six years.

Oregon’s Measure 92 would require food manufacturers and retailers to label genetically engineered foods.

Flickr Photo/Brian Stalter (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Sarah Mirk, online editor for Bitch Media, about results from ballot measures in Oregon regarding marijuana legalization and GMO labeling.

Flickr Photo/Becky Striepe

Ross Reynolds talks to Liam Moriarty, reporter and producer at Jefferson Public Radio, about Measure 92 in Oregon which would require GMO labeling on foods that have genetically modified ingredients.

Oregon’s ballot measure campaigns are continuing to pull in big-money donations.

Genetically modified wheat has been found at a university research center in Montana. That news Friday came as a federal investigation into a similar case in Oregon concludes with few answers.

A tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury, Vt., includes a stop at the "Flavor Graveyard," where ice cream combinations that didn't make the cut are put to rest under the shade of big trees.

Flickr Photo/Katrine Kaarsemaker

When Rep. Cary Condotta campaigned for labeling genetically modified food last fall, he noticed reactions were different depending on the type of food: fish or plant. “When you start talking about modifying animals to grow faster and larger, boy, they light up,” he said. “People go, really? They’re not doing that, are they?”

A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.

Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.

Flickr Photo/Becky Striepe

More than a week after the election, backers of the measure to label genetically modified food finally conceded defeat – but promised they would be back in 2016. In the meantime, national efforts to label GMO foods continue.

Flickr Photo/Becky Striepe

Washington state likely won’t be labeling its food containing GMO products, after all. With most of the votes counted on Tuesday night, 55 percent said no to Initiative 522, which would have required labeling.

Attn. General Says I-522 Donor Violated Campaign Finance Laws

Oct 31, 2013

Steve Scher talks with Attorney General Bob Ferguson about the lawsuit that finds No on I-522 donor, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in violation of campaign finance laws. Penalties are expected after the election is over.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

If voters here approve Initiative 522, a measure to require producers to label foods made with genetically modified ingredients, Washington will join two other states that recently enacted similar laws.

In the food business, everything comes down to that moment when a shopper studies a label and decides whether to buy or move on. That’s why food producers have a big interest in Washington’s Initiative 522 on the ballot next month.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has gotten his wish: A list of donors to a political action committee created to fight Initiative 522, which, if passed, would require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified products.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association established its PAC on Thursday, the day after Ferguson filed suit against the association for failing to release its donor list. 

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