ST. LOUIS — A bill that would require labeling on all foods made from genetically modified crops is among legislation the Illinois Farm Bureau is keeping a close eye on.

House Bill 3085 was introduced earlier this year by Democratic Rep. Deborah Mell, who has since resigned and now serves as a Chicago alderman. It has a number of co-sponsors in the House.

The bill would, for example, identify as a GMO product a bottle of soybean oil processed from Roundup Ready or LibertyLink beans. Illinois Farm Bureau is among organizations actively opposing the bill and has provided experts to testify at public hearings.

Bill Bodine, associate director of state legislation with the Illinois Farm Bureau, discussed the GMO bill and other ongoing legislation while addressing members of the St. Louis AgriBusiness Club.

“Oftentimes it is described as a right to know. But if you read some of the testimony that is presented, when you read some of the parts of the legislation, it’s a direct attack on the safety of biotechnology,” he said. “These are very important tools for our farmers, as you well know. These are important tools to help us be more sustainable, to help reduce the use of natural resources.”

Language in the bill includes statements questioning the safety of genetically modified crops and claiming that their use in agriculture harms the environment.

“The future of this legislation is unsure. It’s something to keep an eye on,” Bodine said. “We don’t need to be driving up food costs with another label requirement for our consumers.”

In addition to the Illinois bill, there is an initiative at the federal level to introduce a labeling requirement. Illinois Farm Bureau is among organizations tracking the issue at the state and federal level.

“We do have a very active environmental group — Food and Water Watch — that has taken this on as their pet cause,” Bodine said. “They have an active group in Illinois. Other environmental groups have joined.”

Bodine also provided a recap of Illinois legislative progress. Washington politicians — bottom feeders, according to abysmal approval ratings — may take some comfort knowing that their Illinois counterparts may be even more reviled.

“There are few places that are not as successful as Washington, and one of them may be Springfield,” Bodine said.

Still, there is some room for hope. Despite a government that seems to be careening out of control due to political infighting and economic problems, state legislators can point to some movement on issues affecting farmers and other rural residents.

Those include model legislation on the regulation of hydraulic fracturing, and a bill authorizing concealed carry permits.

Though the gun legislation was driven by a court ruling, the Legislature worked in a bipartisan manner to draft the bill.

“Contrary to popular belief, something was actually accomplished in Illinois,” Bodine said. That’s a pretty big accomplishment of the General Assembly.”

It also succeeded in passing legislation regulating hydraulic fracturing, the extraction of oil and natural gas through a process of injecting chemicals and water deep into the ground to force out the natural resources. That legislation has been nearly praised across the nation as a model to be followed.

“We were involved heavily in negotiations, simply because of its impact on rural areas and its impact on landowners and farmers,” Bodine said. “That negotiating effort went on for almost a year. It was supported by environmental groups and others.”