09:27 PM ET 12/13/99

 Protesters Rally Vs. 'Frankenfoods'
 By JESSIE SEYFER= Associated Press Writer

           OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Demonstrators rallied Monday to protest a
 government hearing on the safety of what opponents call
 "Frankenfoods'' _ food created by altering genes to increase
 yields or to improve its flavor, shelf life and appearance.
           More than 1,000 people rallied at noon in front of Oakland's
 federal building to make speeches about what they felt was a lack
 of regulation of genetically modified foods by the Food and Drug
           Inside the building, leading food experts discussed the issue
 with the FDA.
           "Genetic contamination is forever,'' said organic farmer Laura
 Trent, whose sign read, 'Get your pig gene out of my tomato.' "No
 scientist has proven it safe, and most people don't even know it's
           Genetically modified food is found supermarkets and in many
 restaurants. An estimated 57 percent of the soybeans and 30 percent
 of the corn planted in the United States this year was genetically
 engineered to resist pests or herbicides.
           State Sen. Tom Hayden said the FDA has dragged its feet in
 regulating such foods.
           "Now we're playing catch-up, just now seeing the long-term
 effects of these foods,'' he said.
           Some demonstrators _ both inside and outside _ called for a
 complete ban on genetically modified foods. But labeling appeared
 the most likely response.
           The experts addressing the FDA panel generally supported
 labeling, but differed over whether labels should be mandatory, and
 over the definition of a "modified'' food.
           Rhona Applebaum, of the National Food Processors Association,
 thought more vigorous scientific review and voluntary labeling
 would help consumers feel better about the foods.

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