The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
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.
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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
By Emily Moran
If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."
By Catherine Davidson
Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.
Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.