A new GMO labeling bill may soon give Californians the opportunity to choose between genetically modified and non-GMO foods.
It should. Prop 37, a California GMO ballot initiative lost in the 2012 election by a narrow defeat (51 to 49). But now, Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has introduced Senate Bill 1381, which would require labeling of GMO foods in the state of California.
“Evans’ GMO labeling bill is cleaner and more simple than Prop. 37,” according to Food Safety News. “However, SB 1381 is drastically different from Prop. 37 in how it will be decided upon. Prop. 37 was a ballot initiative, which is an option available in some states for passing laws by popular vote, and it was rejected by Californian voters, not the California legislature. SB 1381 will have to go through the California legislative process. Thus, if it is accepted or rejected, the action will be taken by California’s elected officials, not voters.”
The bill is being sponsored by “a broad-based coalition of 17 environmental, consumer, food groups and small businesses called Californians for GE Food Labeling representing over 500,000 Californians,” reports the Center for Food Safety.
If it were to pass, SB 1381 would require genetically modified food to be labeled as “genetically engineered,” but foods containing only “some GE ingredients could be labeled ‘Produced with Genetic Engineering’ or ‘Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering’,” reports Food Safety News. “The bill prohibits punishment for failure to label GE foods if less than 1 percent of the ingredients in packaged food is genetically engineered or if the producer didn’t know they were using—or didn’t intend to use—GE foods.”
The bill would also protect retailers if they sold mislabeled food, and it also protects farmers from legal action.
“As a founding member of Californians for GE Food Labeling and lead authors of the legislation, we are proud to see our state legislators introduce this important bill. The powerful and vocal demands of the food movement are being heard and acted upon,” said CFS west coast director Rebecca Spector in a statement. “California consumers want the right to know what is in the food they eat, plain and simple.”
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