Legislation requiring labeling of certain genetically engineered foods still is percolating in the Illinois General Assembly and under consideration in other states.

Over the past year, voters in California and Washington defeated the labeling bills. Maine and Connecticut passed the law, but the bill contains a provision that at least four other Northeaster states need to approve.

Proponents of the labeling claim such a regulation would give consumers a choice between genetically engineered food and non-GE food.

Opponents say the law would imply food with GE ingredients is unsafe and result in higher food costs passed down from processors.

State Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, agriculture committee’s food labeling subcommittee chair, introduced the legislation and hosted public meetings in Chicago, Bloomington and Carbondale to hear both sides of the issue.

New Hampshire state Reps. Tara Sad and Bob Haefner, members of the environment and agriculture committee, voted against the mandatory labeling of foods bill after 19 meetings focusing on the topic.

The legislators recently shared their reasoning behind the anti-labeling positions, and I couldn’t agree more. They wrote the following:

“First, there has been no credible scientific study that proves that there is any material difference between GMO and non-GMO foods. No nutritional difference. No health safety difference. In fact, we have all been eating foods made with genetic engineering for more than 20 years.

“To that end, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulations state that requiring the labeling of foods that are indistinguishable from foods produced through traditional methods would mislead consumers by falsely implying differences where none exist.

“Second, many legal experts tell us that this labeling bill is unconstitutional. Requiring food companies to label their products when there is no health or safety reason to do so fails the state interest test undermines commercial free speech and violates interstate commerce.

“The court challenges that would likely follow passage of a GMO labeling bill would prove a backbreaking financial burden to our inadequate state general fund. When we were sworn in as state representatives, we took an oath to uphold the Constitution. We would be breaking that oath were we to vote for this unconstitutional bill.

“Third, the bill is unenforceable. Our over-extended Health and Human Services Department, which will be charged with the administration and enforcement of this bill, has no experience in food labeling and estimates the costs to enact the bill will be anywhere from $125,000 to $550,000 per year. Once again, who is going to pay for this?

“And, finally, product labeling is a federal — not a state — responsibility. The FDA determines what information needs to be present on our food labels, not to satisfy consumer curiosity, but for our health and safety.

“They, along with the American Medical Association, the National Academies of Science, the World Health Organization and other trusted scientific organizations have all come out in support of foods made with genetic engineering, stating that foods made with this process are as healthy and nutritious as their conventional counterparts.”