States Lead the Way on GMO Labeling

On June 3rd of this year, Connecticut became the first state to pass a law that requires special labeling for foods containing genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs. Maine followed suit a little over a week later, when the state’s senate voted unanimously to require GMO labeling. Both of these laws contain clauses that require other states to pass similar laws before the labeling requirement actually goes into effect. For example, in Connecticut, four other northeastern states need to enact labeling laws, and one of those states needs to border Connecticut before the requirement goes live.  In addition, the combined population of these states needs to be at least 20 million. In Maine, the law won’t go into effect until five other states—one of which must be New Hampshire—pass the same requirements.

At least 27 states have introduced legislation related to GMO-labeling in 2013, but only Connecticut and Maine have so far passed a bill. In November, voters in Washington will decide if GMOs should be labeled in their state when they vote on Ballot Initiative 522. A similar ballot measure – Proposition 37—failed in California last year, 53 to 47 percent.

According to Washington’s Initiative 522, 49 countries, including Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Russia, the European Union member states, and other key United States trading partners, have laws mandating disclosure of genetically engineered foods on food labels while many countries have restrictions or bans against foods produced with genetic engineering.

At the federal level, Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced Senate Bill 809: Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act  that would “amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require that   genetically engineered food and foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients be labeled accordingly”. That bill, introduced in April 2013, was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and remains there. 

Proponents of labeling requirements argue that GMOs may have negative effects on a person’s health and the environment and should therefore be disclosed when used in or as food. Opponents of labeling argue that GMOs are safe and labeling requirements will create an unnecessary regulatory burden on food producers.


State-by-State: GMO Labeling-Related Bills and Resolutions Introduced in 2013 (As of June 25, 2013)

Alaska  

HJR 5: Opposing the United States Food and Drug Administration's preliminary finding relating to genetically engineered salmon; urging further examination of genetically engineered salmon; opposing AquaBounty's petition to produce genetically engineered salmon; and proposing, if AquaBounty's petition is approved, that its product should be labeled as "genetically modified."  Passed Senate (3/25/2013)

Arizona               

SB 1180: Relates to food misbranding; relates to genetically altered ingredients. Referred to Senate Committee (1/24/2013)

Colorado            

HB 1192: Concerns labeling requirements for genetically engineered food. Postponed Indefinitely (2/21/2013)

Connecticut      

HB 6519: To require any infant formula or baby food sold or intended for sale in the state of Connecticut to include clear and conspicuous labeling if the infant formula or baby food contains any genetically engineered materials. To Governor (6/14/2013)

CT HB 6527: Concerns genetically engineered baby food; requires any infant formula or baby food sold or intended for sale in the state of Connecticut to include clear and conspicuous labeling if the infant formula or baby food contains any genetically engineered materials. To Governor (6/14/2013)

HB 6418: To require labeliing of genetically-engeered foods. Referred to Joint Committee on Public Health (2/14/2013)

Florida

HB 1233/SB 1728: Relates to genetically engineered foods; provides definitions; provides list of commercial commodities commonly cultivated in genetically engineered form and requires DACS to publish list by specified date and to update published list annually; provides mandatory labeling requirements for genetically engineered raw agricultural commodities and processed foods made with or derived from genetically engineered ingredients; exempts specified foods, commodities, ingredients, and other substances from labeling. Died in Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee (05/03/2013)

Hawaii 

HB 107: Prohibits testing taro for genetic-modification purposes in the State. Establishes penalty. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HB 348: Requires genetically engineered food products that are sold, offered for sale, or distributed in this State to be labeled as such, with certain exceptions; defines genetically engineered food product. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HB 349: Prohibits genetically engineered food products from being sold or distributed in the State. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HB 627: Allows food offered for retail sale to have displayed on the food a label stating "not genetically engineered" or "does not include a genetically engineered ingredient" if the statement is true. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HB 631: Authorizes display on qualified food offered for retail sale a label stating "not genetically engineered" or "does not include a genetically engineered ingredient" if the statement is true; makes an untrue statement a violation; allows any person or public agency to seek an injunction to prevent or terminate a violation. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

SB 468: Establishes labeling requirements for any food or raw agricultural commodity sold in the State that contains a genetically engineered material, or was produced with a genetically engineered material. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

SB 613: Makes the research, development, sale, production, or processing of genetically engineered agricultural products not for direct human consumption as food ineligible for tax and other incentives granted to certain businesses located in enterprise zones. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HB 733: Requires labeling of certain genetically engineered food products. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HB 735: Prohibits the development, testing, propagation, release, importation, planting, or growing of genetically engineered Hawaiian taro in the State; establishes limited prohibitions on the engineering, testing, and cultivation of non-Hawaiian taro in the State. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

SB 934: Requires genetically engineered food products that are sold, offered for sale, or distributed in this State to be labeled as such, with certain exceptions; defines genetically engineered food product; establishes penalties for violations. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

SB 935: Prohibits genetically engineered food products from being sold or distributed in the State. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

SB 1290: Requires labeling of certain genetically engineered food products. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

SB 1329: Requires labeling of foods that have been genetically engineered; provides a penalty for violations and authorizes private civil enforcement of the Act. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HB 174: Requires, beginning 01/01/14, specific labeling for any food or raw agricultural commodity sold in the State that contains or was produced with a genetically engineered material. In Committee: Measure Deferred (03/21/2013)

SB 615: Prohibits the sale of genetically engineered fish or genetically engineered fish products in the State beginning 1/1/2014 unless appropriately labeled as genetically engineered or produced or partially produced with genetic engineering. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HCR 170: Urges the President and the Congress of the United States to diversify seed production and enact legislation to limit patents on genetically modified plants. Failed First Crossover Deadline - First Year of Biennium. (03/07/2013)

HR 149: Requests the United States Congress to support legislation requiring the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to come up with a nation-wide system for monitoring, labeling, and enforcing the labeling of all whole and processed genetically engineered foods. In HOUSE. Read third time. Passed HOUSE (04/12/2013)

Illinois

SB 1666: Requires labeling of both whole and processed genetically modified foods above a specific percentage by weight.  Sets forth provisions concerning applicability and the right of action for violations, damages, and attorneys' fees.  Senate/Re-referred to Assignments (3/22/2013)

HB 3085: Creates the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods Act. Requires genetically engineered raw agricultural commodities and processed foods offered for retail sale to bear certain labels. Creates exemptions for certain classes of products. House/Re-referred to Rules Committee (3/22/2013)

Indiana

HB 1196: Provides that, beginning July 1, 2014, any food that is offered for retail sale is misbranded if it is not disclosed that the food is or may have been entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering. Provides that, beginning July 1, 2014, a food that is genetically engineered or a processed food may not state or imply that the food is natural. Establishes exceptions to the disclosure requirements and prohibition on stating a food is natural. Requires the state department of health (department) to administer and enforce the disclosure and labeling requirements. Allows the department to adopt rules. Establishes a Class A infraction for violations. Allows the department or a person to seek an injunction for a violation. In Committee - first House

Iowa

SB 194: Requires food items to be labeled with information that identifies the food items as genetically engineered; provides that the department of agriculture and land stewardship is responsible for administering and enforcing's provisions; provides that a person manufacturing a packaged food item for sale to a grocery store must disclose whether it was or may have been subjected to genetic engineering when produced; provides that the disclosure must appear on a printed label. In SENATE Committee on AGRICULTURE: Subcommittee assignments: Seng, Sodders, and Zumbach. (04/03/2013)

Maine  

LD 718/HP 490: Requires disclosure of genetic engineering at the point of retail sale of food and seed stock and provides that food or seed stock for which the disclosure is not made is considered to be misbranded and subject to the sanctions for misbranding. The bill provides that food or seed stock may not be labeled as natural if it has been genetically engineered. The bill exempts products produced without knowledge that the products, or items used in their production, were genetically engineered; animal products. Passed House and Senate - placed on Special Appropriations Table, pending enactment.  (6/13/2013)

LD 898: Requires labeling of genetically engineered marine organisms.  Died Between Houses (6/14/13)

Maryland           

HB 903: Establishes that specified foods offered for retail sale in the State and produced with genetic engineering are misbranded if specified disclosure or labeling requirements are not met; establishes that specified requirements of the Act do not apply to specified foods, commodities, and beverages. Withdrawn from further consideration (2/26/2013)

HB 1466: Requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct a study of whether genetically modified organisms in food have an adverse effect on human health; requires the study to include a review of academic literature and scientific studies; requires the Department to report its findings to the General Assembly on or before May 1, 2014. To HOUSE Committee on RULES AND EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS. (2/22/2013)

Massachusetts

HB 808: Relates to the labeling of genetically engineered food.  Referred to Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

HB 2037: Establishes guidelines within the Department of Public Health for genetically engineered food. In JOINT Committee on PUBLIC HEALTH: Heard. Eligible for Executive Session. (6/11/2013)

HB 2093: Relates to the definition of genetically engineered material in the labeling of food. In JOINT Committee on PUBLIC HEALTH: Heard. Eligible for Executive Session. (6/11/2013)

HB 1936: Relates to genetically engineered food. In JOINT Committee on PUBLIC HEALTH: Heard. Eligible for Executive Session. (6/11/2013)

Michigan

HR 193: Urges the Food and Drug Administration to require that genetically modified foods be labeled as such and to allow non-genetically modified foods to be labeled as GMO-free To House Committee on Agriculture (6/20/2013)

Minnesota         

HB 850/SB 821: Relates to food safety; requires disclosure of genetically engineered food To House Committee on Agriculture Policy (2/21/2013)

Missouri             

HB 245: Requires all food and food products sold in Missouri that are or contain genetically modified products to be labeled indicating that the food is or contains genetically modified products.  Withdrawn (2/14/2013)

SB 155: Requires that all meat and fish produced in the state that is genetically modified and sold in the state for human consumption shall bear on its label a statement indicating that it is genetically modified. Second Read and Referred S Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee (1/31/2013)

Nevada               

AB 330: requiring a person who produces or sells certain genetically engineered foods to place a label on the package or container of the food or agricultural product disclosing that it was genetically engineered. Pursuant to Joint Standing Rule No. 14.3.1, no further action allowed (4/13/2013)

New Hampshire              

HB 660: Any human or animal food offered for retail sale in this state shall be deemed misbranded if such food is, or may have been, entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and such fact is not disclosed. Retained in House Environment and Agricultural Committee (2/19/2013)

New Jersey       

AB 3192: Every genetically modified food product that is offered for sale in this State shall contain a label indicating that the product contains genetically modified material. Reported out of Assembly Committee, 2nd Reading (6/17/2013)

AB 2955/SB 1367: Every genetically modified food product that is offered for sale in this State shall contain a label indicating that the product contains genetically modified material. Introduced, Referred to Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee (5/21/2012)

New Mexico

SB 18: Require the labeling of food and commercial modified material; providing for measurement, quantification and investigation of genetically modified material in food and commercial feed Not adopted (1/18/2013)

New York           

AB 5412/SB 4468: Any food offered for retail sale in New York is misbranded if it is or may have been entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and that fact is not disclosed. Referred to Consumer Protection (4/3/2013)

AB 3525/SB 3835: Any food offered for retail sale in New York is misbranded if it is or may have been entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and that fact is not disclosed. Amend and Recommit to Consumer Protection, Print Number 3835A (5/8/2013)

Oregon

HB 2175: Makes foods that contain or are produced using genetically engineered material subject to labeling requirements. Declares food that contains or is produced using genetically engineered material and does not conform with labeling requirements to be misbranded. Referred to Agriculture and Natural Resources (1/22/2013)

HB 2532: Makes foods that contain or are produced using genetically engineered material subject to labeling requirements. Declares food that contains or is produced using genetically engineered material and does not conform with labeling requirements to be misbranded. Referred to Agriculture and Natural Resources (1/22/2013)

HB 3177: Requires signage in area where genetically engineered fish are sold, displayed for sale or offered for sale at retail for human consumption. Declares genetically engineered fish to be misbranded food if sold, displayed for sale or offered for sale at retail for human consumption without required signage. Makes foods that contain genetically engineered fish subject to labeling requirements. Declares food to be misbranded if food contains genetically engineered fish and does not conform with labeling requirements. Referred to Agriculture and Natural Resources (2/27/2013)

Pennsylvania    

SB 653: Requires the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Referred to Agriculture and Rural Affairs (4/3/2013)

Rhode Island    

HB 5278: Requires that food and food products derived from or containing genetically modified organisms be labeled as such by the manufacturer, retailer or other person before putting it on the market for sale in Rhode Island. Committee of Health, Education and Welfare recommended measure be held for further study (4/24/2013)

HB 5849: Requires that food or food products produced or made in Rhode Island only, derived from or containing genetically modified organisms be labeled as such by the manufacturer, retailer, or other person before putting it on the market for sale in Rhode Island. Committee of Health, Education and Welfare recommended measure be held for further study (4/24/2013)

Tennessee         

HB 1168/SB 894: Requires that genetically engineered food that is sold or distributed in or from Tennessee bear a label that is plainly visible on the principal display panel and contains the conspicuous words "genetically engineered". HB 1168:  Action Deferred in Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee to 2014 (3/20/2013). SB 894:  Assigned to Gen. Sub of Senate Commerce and Labor Committee (3/19/2013)

Vermont             

HB 112: Provides that food is misbranded if it is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and it is not labeled as genetically engineered. Passed House, in Senate (5/10/2013)

SB 89: Provides that food is misbranded if it is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and it is not labeled as genetically engineered. Referred to Committee on Agriculture (2/8/2013)

Washington      

SB 5073: Any food offered for retail sale in Washington is misbranded if it is, or may have been, entirely or partly produced with genetic engineering and that fact is not disclosed. By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status (5/13/2013)

West Virginia   

HB 2153: Sets forth labeling requirements regarding the sale of foods containing genetically engineered materials and foods produced with genetically engineered materials. To House Agriculture (2/13/13)

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