GE Mandatory Labeling Laws Introduced in Florida
|Protesters at GMO Free Florida's "Rally for the Right to Know" last fall.|
Genetically engineered foods have been a concern of many for quite some time now. For years, it was more an issue for vegetarians, environmentalists, pseudo-hippies, and ethically concerned chefs than for the general population. Not anymore. The presence -- and subsequent failure -- of Proposition 37 on California's ballot in November brought the labeling debate into the mainstream. Now individuals ranging from soccer moms to celebrities are airing concerns over GE foods. And they're finally being heard.
In Florida, a state not traditionally known for progressive political agendas, Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda and Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs have introduced mandatory labeling bills that will be considered over the next few months.
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The bills, HB 1233 and S 1728, will require labeling for all foods that contain more than 1 percent GE ingredients, if passed. This would include plants that have been altered with alien genetic material to create genetic combinations that do not occur naturally. Most processed food will fall under these labeling laws, as they usually contain byproducts of GE corn, soy, or cotton.
According to the executive director of Food & Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter, "Labeling GE foods is not a novel idea. The European Union specifically addresses the new properties and risks of biotech crops, requiring all food, animal feed, and processed products with GE content to bear labels. In fact, the EU is among nearly 50 developed countries that require the GE products they import from the U.S. to be labeled. Furthermore, a 2012 Mellman Group Study showed that 91 percent of U.S. voters favored having the U.S. Food and Drug Administration require labels on GE foods and ingredients."
During the November election, the opposition to California's Prop. 37 -- namely major agribusinesses like Monsanto -- outspent the "Yes on 37" campaign 5-to-1. If you look at the numbers, that's hardly a competition. The bill, which started off with a 2-to-1 lead in some polls, ended being defeated 53 percent to 47 percent. With bills coming to the floor in Florida, we're going to bet you a strong opposition will start coming out of the woodwork.