Posted April 4, 2014
The California legislature is considering a bill that would require labels for bulk and packaged foods containing genetically modified (GMO) ingredients beginning in 2016, according to an article by the LA Times available here.
Senate Bill 1381, was introduced by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) in February and was recently approved by the Health Committee with a 5-2 vote. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee and the Agriculture Committee before it can reach the full senate.
The bill defines “genetic engineering” as the “manipulation of genes in a laboratory to make them resistant to certain pesticides or diseases.”
The legislation is controversial; with supporters of labeling arguing that it is necessary to protect public health and consumer choice, according to a Petaluma 360 article available here. Opponents say, however, that labels would confuse shoppers and lead to higher production costs.
“I want to be very clear: This bill doesn’t ban anything,” Evans testified. “It simply requires labeling. It’s agnostic on whether GMOs are good, or whether they are bad.”
Critics attended the hearing, arguing that there is no scientific proof that genetically altered ingredients pose a threat to humans. “The overwhelming scientific evidence is that genetically engineered foods … are safe,” said Kent Bradford, professor of plant science and director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis.
Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist for Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports said there are still “open questions” about the safety of GMOs and that labeling would provide “consumers who simply want to avoid these” foods to do so.
For more information on food labeling, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.