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Testimony on HB 6519, an Act Concerning the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food, before the Committee on Public Health

Michael Hansen’s testimony in support of HB 6519, an Act Concerning the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food. Genetic engineering is very different than conventional forms of breeding. Genetic engineering allows exchanges of genes between life forms that could never do so naturally. Scientists have used GE to put spider silk genes into goats and human genes into rice plants using. Indeed, there is global agreement that because genetic engineering is different than conventional breeding, safety assessments should be completed for all GE foods, including crops and animals, prior to marketing. The human safety problems that may arise from GE include introduction of new allergens or increased levels of naturally occurring allergens, of plant toxins, and changes in nutrition. There may also be other unintended effects. At least 62 countries, which together include more than half the world’s population, (including all European Union, China, India, Japan, Korea, Australia, Russia, Brazil and South Africa), require labeling of GE foods. A number of polls from 1995 to 2011 have found that between 70% and 95% of Americans polled supported mandatory labeling. Such labeling is important because consumers have a right to choose the foods they eat and to avoid any unintended health effects.