Supporters of a Constitutional amendment that would require genetically-modified foods to be labeled in Ohio gathered Thursday, March 27 at the New Carlisle Public Library. An organization centered around clearly labeling genetically-altered foods has been forming branches in each region, and Thursday’s meeting brought together representatives from southwestern Ohio.

Mary Sue Gmeiner of Park Layne led the public action meeting, and said community residents needed to become more aware of what is inside the food they eat.

Gmeiner said she started researching genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, 14 years ago, and has since started working with Label The Truth Ohio, a citizens’ action group dedicated to mandating the labeling of foods that contain GMOs.

Gmeiner said “commodity crops” such as corn, soy, canola (or rapeseed), sugar beets, and cotton are heavily inundated by GMOs. “80 percent of the food supply now contains GMOs,” Gmeiner said. “Four out of five things you pull off the shelves at your grocery are made with GMOs.”

Label The Truth’s website says the use of genetically-modified crops began in the mid-1990s, and that not enough time has progressed to properly study the effects of GMOs on human beings, although some sources cite allergies, diabetes, and even autism as effects of genetically-altered foods. The site also describes GMOs as crops that have been genetically mixed with other organisms. Gmeiner said although the majority of tomato crops are not genetically-modified yet, she had heard of entities attempting to splice fish DNA with tomato plants so that they might better withstand cold snaps.

Label The Truth also claims genetically-modified crops cannot be contained once released into the wild, as the genetically-altered genes occupy every single cell inside each plant, and are often blown around in the wind. This scattering of genetically-modified substances has given rise to what Label The Truth calls “super-weeds,” strains of weeds that have become resistant to standard herbicides and pesticides. Gmeiner said now an herbicide which contains some of the same chemicals as Agent Orange is being discussed to eradicate such super-weeds.

Gmeiner said she hopes to garner community support for labeling such foods, and that like-minded community members will assist her in gathering signatures in Clark County so that Label The Truth may work with state legislatures in acquiring the Constitutional amendment.

Currently, organic foods are labeled, and often approved by the FDA, but genetically-modified foods are not. Gmeiner said the leading contributors to GMOs are often big chemical companies who she believes stand to lose some profit if their products are labeled as genetically-modified.

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