IL farmers, lawmakers talk food labelling

Mar 6, 2014

Farmers, their lobbyists and legislators met in the Capitol Thursday to talk about legislation that would affect one of Illinois’ biggest industries – agriculture. One proposal “big ag” is fighting would change the way food is labeled in Illinois.

  State Senator Dave Koehler says consumers ought to know whether processed food they buy contains genetically engineered ingredients.

Koehler’s legislation is modeled after a similar measure that Washington state voters rejected in a referendum last fall.

Kevin Semlow lobbies for the Illinois Farm Bureau, and argues the issue should be handled at the federal level.  He calls statehouse pushes for GMO labeling a “hodge podge”.

But Koehler, a Peoria Democrat, says with public opinion shifting, he believes labeling of GMO food is not a matter of “if,” but “when.”

“The public is really demanding more transparency.  Not only in government, but in the products they buy.  This is really about being more aware, of having more information about what it is that you’re consuming.”

Koehler chairs the Illinois Senate’s Agriculture Committee, and expects to bring the bill up for debate sometime this spring.