ISA Members Give Testimony In Favor of GE Labeling

Debate on labeling genetically engineered food in Illinois is heating up, and several Illinois Stewardship Alliance farmer-members are speaking up. Three of ISA’s members gave testimony on Aug. 7 in Carbondale at an Illinois Senate hearing regarding legislation that would require labeling of genetically engineered food in the state.
ISA member Wendell Lutz said GE labeling makes sense from a fiscal standpoint.

“For the second year in a row, my local elevator has contracted at least 26,000 acres of non-GMO soybeans. I will receive $2 per bushel premium over the co-op’s best soybean cash bid and they have even set up an elevator dedicated only to receiving these soybeans in the fall right off the combine,” Lutz said in his testimony.

ISA member Dave Bishop said GE labeling is about treating all producers and farmers equally.

“At PrairiErth Farm we produce a breakfast sausage, to which is added salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Now I don’t know of many people who think there is anything especially harmful about salt, pepper, and brown sugar -nevertheless, the law requires that those ingredients be listed on the label,” Bishop said. “I don’t have a problem listing the things I put in the food that my customers buy on my label, but I do have a problem with those who think that the things they put in our food should somehow be exempted – that they should not have to follow the same rules that everyone else has to follow. The government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure consistency and fairness across the board.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 1666, is being sponsored by Peoria-area State Senator Dave Koehler. He’s been holding hearings throughout the state to get input on the legislation. The last scheduled hearing is on Sept. 17 in Chicago at 10am at 160 N La Salle, in Room 600.

Lutz shot down the argument that it would be difficult to implement GE labeling in the state.

“Not only is there clear demand for non-GMO food and a financial incentive for farmers to grow these crops, but the infrastructure to separate, store, sell and label these products
is already in place and these programs are available to all farmers. I do not believe sourcing specific non-GMO products would be difficult or market distorting as some might claim,” Lutz said.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1666, is being sponsored by Peoria-area State Senator Dave Koehler. He’s been holding hearings throughout the state to get input on the legislation. The last scheduled hearing is on Sept. 17 in Chicago at 10am at 160 N La Salle, in Room 600.