Two States Introduce Bills Requiring Genetically Engineered Food Labels
Today, Senator Joe Bolkcom introduced a bill, Senate File (SF) 194, that would require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in Iowa. The legislation was drafted with the support of consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch and is strongly supported by many national and local organizations and individuals including food cooperatives, organic farmers, environmentalists and food justice proponents.
“Consumers want to know what is in their food,” said Sen. Bolkcom (D-Iowa City). “This is a simple bill that gives consumers information they want”
If passed, SF 194 would require labeling for all foods containing more than nine-tenths of one percent GE ingredients. This includes plants altered in a laboratory with foreign genetic material to create novel genetic combinations and exhibit traits that do not occur in nature. Since most processed foods contain some derivative of GE corn, soybean or cotton, they would need to be labeled under this law.
“Right now, consumers are in the dark about whether or not the food they buy and feed to their families is genetically engineered,” said Matt Ohloff, Iowa Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “SF 194 would give Iowans the power to decide for themselves whether or not to buy and eat GE foods. This simple right to information about our foods is something everyone can support, which is why GE food labeling is on both the Iowa Republican and Democratic Party Platforms. We look forward to seeing legislators from both parties and the Governor represent their constituents, and their parties, and pass GE food labeling legislation in Iowa.”
According to a Food & Water Watch press release, although health risks associated with eating GE products are not fully understood, these altered foods have become pervasive within our food system since they first became available in 1996. Companies submit their own safety testing data, and independent research is limited because biotechnology companies prohibit cultivation for research purposes.
Labeling GE foods is not a novel idea. The European Union specifically addresses the new properties and risks of biotech crops, requiring all food, animal feeds and processed products with GE content to bear labels. In fact, the EU is among nearly 50 developed countries that require the GE products they import from the U.S. to be labeled. Furthermore, a 2012 Mellman Group Study showed that 91 percent of U.S. voters favored having the Food and Drug Administration require labels on GE foods and ingredients.
Iowa isn't the only state working to enforce the labeling of GE foods. Last week, according to dcist, Maryland State Delegate Glen Glass introduced a bill that would require food manufacturers to include labels on products that have genetically engineered ingredients in them. Under the provisions of the bill, any food product that was genetically engineered would have to be labeled as such, either bearing a warning notifying that the product is "Genetically Engineered" or "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering." Additionally, it would be unlawful for such products to advertise themselves as "natural," "naturally grown" or "all natural."
According to a New York Times article on the fight for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, at least 20 states across the country are considering labeling requirements. Voters in Washington state will soon be able to vote on a ballot initiative that would mandate labeling; a similar initiative failed in California last year after intense lobbying from the food industry. In November, the city of Cincinnati became the first in Ohio to pass a resolution to require the labeling of GE foods, citing that consumers should have the right to know what is in their food.
Last year the Maryland General Assembly approved a ban on the use of arsenic in chicken feed, and that ban went into effect last month.
Visit EcoWatch’s GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM page for more related news on this topic.
Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.
Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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