California lawmakers reject bill requiring labeling on GMO foods

Thu May 29, 2014 9:43am EDT
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By Jennifer Chaussee

(Reuters) - (This May 28 story was corrected in the seventh paragraph to delete erroneous reference to a genetically modified wheat)

California lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a bill that would require labels on foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the second time in two years such legislation has failed to take hold in the state.

Proponents of the bill had sought to make California the second state in the country after Vermont to require GMO labeling, but the measure failed to pass the state Senate by two votes.

Democratic Senator Noreen Evans, the bill's author, was planning to push a reconsideration vote on Thursday before the end of the legislative session.

The bill would require all distributors who sell food in California to label the product if any of the ingredients have been genetically engineered. The labeling law would exclude alcohol and food sold at farmers markets.

"This bill is a straightforward, common-sense approach to empowering consumers," said Evans. "If the product contains GMOs, label it. We shouldn't be hiding ingredients."

In 2012, a similar labeling bill looked poised to pass but was narrowly defeated by California voters after a last minute, $46 million media blitz funded by opponents, including PepsiCo and Missouri-based Monsanto Co, a multinational chemical, agricultural and biotechnology corporation.   Continued...

A group of demonstrators hold signs during a rally in support of the state's upcoming Proposition 37 ballot measure outside the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California October 6, 2012.  REUTERS/Stephen Lam