IDFA: State GMO labeling legislation update

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The labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food continues to be a hotly debated issue in the state legislatures. Recently, several states have begun moving legislation or ballot measures that would require some form of GMO labeling.

• The Vermont Senate Agriculture Committee has approved a measure, HB 112, which passed the State Assembly late last year. The bill would require that foods bear a label if it is produced or partially produced using genetically modified organisms. Foods produced from an animal that has been either fed or injected with GMO material would be exempt from the labeling rules. The bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee where hearings are expected to be held in March.

• Maryland companion bills HB 1191 and SB 778 are GMO labeling bills that have been introduced in the last month. The bills would require that all raw and packaged foods that are entirely or partially produced with genetic engineered ingredients be labeled by 2015. The bill would not apply to foods where the genetic engineering accounts for only .9 percent of the total weight of the packaged food. The House bill has generated 19 cosponsors and the Senate bill has 8. A hearing has been scheduled for both bills for March 11.

• Hawaii is considering two separate approaches to GMO labeling. The first bill, SB 2454, would establish a task force to recommend actions, if any, the state should consider with respect to labeling GMOs. The task force would present a report and any legislative recommendations to the legislature by 2016. Currently, SB 2454 has cleared the requisite number of committees and is eligible for a full vote. The second bill, SB 2521, would require labeling of foods produced with GMOs by 2015. Foods produced from an animal that has been either fed or injected with GMO material would be exempt from the labeling rules. This bill has been approved by the committees on health, judiciary and labor.

• California will again weigh the issue of GMO labeling. A bill, SB 1381, was introduced in the State Senate that includes similar language to that of California Proposition 37, which appeared on the ballot in 2012. The bill requires food produced with genetic engineering be labeled. The rules do not apply to foods produced from animals that have been fed or injected with genetic material. The bill is sponsored by State Senator Noreen Evans.

IDFA will continue to monitor state GMO labeling initiatives throughout the 2014 legislative session; please see IDFA’s State Legislative Tracking Matrix.

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