Wednesday October 10, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Calories. Nutrients. Serving size. How about "produced with genetic engineering?"

California voters will soon decide whether to require certain raw and processed foods to carry such a label.

In a closely watched test of consumers’ appetite for genetically modified foods, the special label is being pushed by organic farmers and advocates who are concerned about what people eat even though the federal government and many scientists contend such foods are safe.

More than just food packaging is at stake. The outcome could reverberate through American agriculture, which has long tinkered with the genes of plants to reduce disease, ward off insects and boost the food supply.

International food and chem ical companies, including Monsanto Co. and DuPont Co., have contributed about $35 million to defeat Pro position 37 on the No vember ballot. It also would ban labeling or advertising genetically altered food as "natural."

If voters approve the initiative, California would become the first state to require disclosure of a broad range of foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Food makers would have to add a label or reformulate their products to avoid it. Supermarkets would be charged with making sure their shelves are stocked with correctly labeled items.