Tallahassee, Fla.—Representative Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda and Senator Maria Lorts Sachs have introduced bills in the Florida House and Senate that would require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in Florida. The legislation was drafted with the support of consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch and is strongly supported by a diverse coalition of over 200 organizations and businesses in Florida including the Sierra Club Florida Chapter, Florida Farmworkers Association, Global Organics and Florida Right to Know.
If passed, HB 1233 and S 1728 would require labeling for all foods containing more than one percent GE ingredients. This includes plants altered in a laboratory with foreign genetic material to create novel genetic combinations and exhibit traits that do not occur in nature. Since most processed foods contain some derivative of GE corn, soybean or cotton, they would require labeling under this law.
Although health risks associated with eating GE products are not fully understood, these altered foods have become pervasive within our food system since they first became available in 1996. Companies submit their own safety testing data and independent research is limited because biotechnology companies prohibit cultivation for research purposes.
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.
HB 1233 and S 1728 will be considered by the Legislature over the coming months and can be viewed at: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=50569 and
Contact: Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch, [email protected], 586-556-8805