Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

California Senator Introduces GMO Food Labeling Bill

Food
California Senator Introduces GMO Food Labeling Bill

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Remember California’s Proposition 37, the defunct 2012 ballot initiative that would have required genetically engineered (GE) food sold in the West Coast state to be labeled as such?

California Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has introduced Senate Bill 1381, which would require GE food labeling within the Golden State.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Prop. 37, which also would have blocked GE foods from being labeled "natural," was defeated, with 51-49 by voters. A similar piece of legislation in Washington, Initiative 522, was also defeated. And, with the help of a powerful food industry lobby spending millions to protect GE foods, many state legislatures have rejected GE labeling bills.

Now, California Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has breathed new life into the controversy by introducing Senate Bill 1381, which would require GE food labeling, reports Food Safety News. 

Evans’ bill is simpler than Prop. 37, according to the Center for Food Safety, which has supported GE labeling initiatives in several states. However, SB 1381 is different from Prop. 37 in how it will either be passed or rejected by the California legislature instead of going before voters.

If approved, the bill would mandate that GE food be labeled appropriately; however, but food containing only some GE ingredients could be labeled “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

The bill will not penalize businesses that fail 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, according to Food Safety News. 

The bill provides protections for retail owners who weren't aware they were selling mislabeled food, and it also blocks legal action against farmers. Action against unknowing retailers and farmers was a concern surrounding Prop. 37, even among those who may have otherwise supported GE labeling.

SB 1381 also does not include a provision that would prohibit GE food from being labeled “natural.”

The bill’s official text cited many justifications. They include:

  • Protecting California’s organic agriculture sector, which has the largest organic farm-gate sales in the country;
  • Consumer protection from unintended allergens;
  • Consumers’ ability to support more environmentally friendly farming;
  • Protecting wild salmon fishermen in case FDA approves AquaBounty’s GE salmon;
  • Polls indicating that more than 90 percent of the American public wants to know if their food was genetically engineered;
  • The often-cited public “right to know” justification, to support informed purchasing decisions.

A major argument against SB 1381 is that a slim majority of "Golden State" voters already rejected GE labeling, which could influence how legislators view the bill.

Warning Labels Coming to a Soda Can Near You?

Apart from the GE fight, a state lawmaker and medical experts introduced legislation earlier this month that would require sugary drinks sold in California to display health warning labels similar to those found on cigarette packs, reports the Los Angeles Times

State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and the California Medical Association said the bill is necessary in light of research that links sugary drink consumption to the unprecedented spike in diabetes, obesity and tooth decay cases.

“When the science is this conclusive, the State of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers,” Monning told the Los Angeles Times. “As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier choices.”

If SB 1000 were to pass, warning labels would appear on the front of all cans and bottles of soda and fruit drinks containing added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories per 12 ounces.

The proposed label would include the following: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.” 

Visit EcoWatch’s GE FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch