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Thune defends genetically modified food

There is no need for a national law to require labeling of genetically modified food, the two Republicans representing South Dakota in Congress said Wednesday.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said genetically modified crops have been proven safe and are needed to feed a growing global population.

"I'm really concerned about this overreaction people are having to genetically modified crops. This is the way we are going to feed the world," Thune said. "Technology has given us some great solutions. Clearly these are safe. There's no question about those issues."

Both Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said there is no need at this time for a federal law regulating genetically modified food to be labeled as such for consumers.

"As more and more states come out with their own different regulations, it makes it more complicated. We may see more people from across the country asking for us to take some action," Noem said. "There's not a real desire for Congress to step in and start dealing with this issue until people across states really tell us that it's necessary."

Thune called the push for food labeling a political issue and said European countries use the labels, in part, to shield their own farmers from American competition.

"Places like Europe, it's very difficult to export to some of those countries. They put in some of those crazy labeling regimes, or worse yet they block any kind of GMO crop from coming in," Thune said. "I hate to see us start down this path here in America. There's an awful lot riding on us being able to feed America and the world."

He said he would not favor any bill to put a national food-labeling system in place.