By Miriam Raftery
June 18, 2014 (Sacramento)--While other states are taking steps to protect consumers from genetically modified foods or give consumers information to make informed choices, California’s Legislature this week voted down a bill that would have required labeling of foods sold in California that are made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Exceptions were granted for alcoholic beverages and foods sold at farmer’s markets.
The bill, SB 1381, failed by two votes in the State Senate. Among our local legislators, Republican Senators Joel Anderson and Mark Wyland voted against the bill, along with Democrat Marty Block. Ben Hueso, also a Democrat, voted for the measure.
The author, Senator Noreen Evans, has said she hopes to have the bill reconsidered before the end of the Legislative session.
A similar bill previously failed passage in 2012, as did a ballot initiative, Prop 37, following a campaign against the measure funded by Monsanto and other giants in the chemical and agricultural industries.
Vermont recently became the first state in the nation to require labeling of GMOs on all foods sold in the state Four food supply organizations representing grocers, manufacturers, the snack foods industry and dairy farmers promptly announced a lawsuit against Vermont seeking to stop the law from taking effect.
Worldwide, over 60 countries have adopted GMO labeling. Some studies indicate genetically modified foods such as soy and corn, pose risks to human health. But companies opposed to labeling insist GMOs are needed to make crops disease resistant and supply food for the world’s growing population.
At the national level,, a petition drafted by the Center for Food Safety, a national environmental advocacy non-profit, asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require distributors to label GMO ingredients in food products.
Some local communities are taking action on their own. Two counties in Oregon voted last week to ban farmers from growing genetically modified crops within their local jurisdictions.