Coalition of Supporters Rally Behind Consumers’ Right to Know
Today, California State Senator Noreen Evans (D – Santa Rosa) introduced a new bill to label genetically engineered (GE) foods sold in California. The bill, SB 1381, is sponsored by a broad-based coalition of 17 environmental, consumer, food groups and small businesses called Californians for GE Food Labeling representing over 500,000 Californians. Center for Food Safety (CFS), as a founding member of the coalition, released the following statement in support of the bill:
“California consumers want the right to know what is in the food they eat, plain and simple. As a founding member of Californians for GE Food Labeling and lead authors of the legislation, we are proud to see our state legislators introduce this important bill. The powerful and vocal demands of the food movement are being heard and acted upon,” said CFS west coast director Rebecca Spector.
“California often paves the way for federal laws,” Spector continued. “Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to date refused to label GE foods, it is up to individual states to lead the way and protect our state’s interests, including public health, consumer right to know, and our farmers and agricultural lands. This bill is an important step toward protecting these interests here in California,” added Spector.
SB 1381 bill is a simpler, cleaner version of Prop 37. It further clarifies the proposed law by explicitly providing protections for farmers and retailers, and places limits on potential litigation. Prop 37 narrowly lost by a less than 3% margin. And post-election polling showed that 21% of all California voters who voted against Prop. 37 reported they support requiring labeling of GE foods, showing that this legislation is welcome and needed.
Center for Food Safety has been at the center of the fight to inform consumers about GE foods for over a decade. CFS has sponsored numerous labeling bills in California, including AB 88 to label GE fish and SB 63 to label food from cloned animals, a bill which passed the state legislature in 2007 but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Center for Food Safety also co-authored Prop 37, the narrowly defeated 2012 ballot initiative for GE food labeling and has testified frequently before the CA legislature on labeling and related issues.
Polls show 90-95% of Americans want GE labeling. In 2013, 50 bills to require GE labeling were introduced in 26 states. Connecticut and Maine have already passed GE labeling legislation and Oregon is planning a ballot initiative on the issue. Alaska also passed a bill requiring the labeling of genetically engineered fish and fish products. Sixty-four nations including China, South Africa, and all countries in the European Union currently require GE foods to be labeled.
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About Center for Food Safety
Center for Food Safety is a national, non-profit, membership organization founded in 1997 to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS maintains offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon, and has more than 400,000 members across the country. More information can be found at www.centerforfoodsafety.org.