States have varying success with GM labeling bills

The push to get states to label any products that contain genetically modified organisms is increasing as several states are working toward passing legislation that would put the matter up for a vote.

In 2012, California tried to pass a law that would have required labeling of GMOs in the state. The measure, Prop 37, was seen as a way to require a majority of food manufacturers to label products if they contained GMOs. However, the measure failed to pass. Since the failure of the bill, other states have been working to develop similar legislation for their state.

Washington state was first to push for a law after California's did not pass. Washington state officials announced recently that its law that was introduced, known as Initiative 522 or I-522 or "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, would require agricultural commodities and processed foods that contain GMO ingredients be labeled. I-522 was supported with 350,000 signatures and as of Feb. 1, the Secretary's office confirmed that the measure has been certified to be on the November ballot. This bill is now before state legislators, who could pass the law directly, take no action or arrange for a public vote earlier than November.

New Mexico attempted to introduce a bill requiring GMO labeling of foods, but it was tabled last week when the New Mexico Senate voted down a committee report on the proposal. It had passed the public affairs committee earlier. New Mexico Senate democrats were confident similar initiatives other states would make it out of committee.

In Missouri, a bill was introduced (SB 155) that would require all meat and fish produced in the state that is genetically modified and sold for human consumption be labeled.

Last week, Hawaii legislators passed a new measure in the House Committee on Agriculture, requiring labeling on genetically modified food. However, the bill was amended on Thursday to only apply to produce imported from outside of Hawaii.