For Immediate Release: May 29, 2014
GMO Labeling: Near Miss in California Senate
California’s SB 1381 (Evans) to label genetically engineered foods was narrowly defeated in the California Senate today, with 19 votes in favor and 16 votes opposed. The bill needed 21 votes to pass.
The bill made it through three committees and inspired intense lobbying on both sides, with legislators reporting thousands of calls from community members in support of the bill and pesticides and food industry lobbyists overrunning the Capitol in recent weeks.
“We’re pleased that we came so close to passing SB 1381 and this bodes well for future efforts to label GMOs in California. The pesticide and biotech industries pulled out all the stops to kill this bill. We’re disappointed that big money lobbying won out over the will of the people of California but we will not give up until we win the right to know what’s in our food," said Kristin Urquiza, co-coordinator of Californians for GE Food Labeling.
California ignited the national movement for GE food labeling in 2012 with Proposition 37. Connecticut and Maine have since passed GE labeling bills (which are pending similar legislation in neighbor states) and last month Vermont became the first state to pass a GE labeling law with no strings. Oregon and Colorado are gathering signatures for a GMO labeling ballot initiative this year.
“More than 90% of people across the U.S. want genetically engineered foods to be labeled. Big corporations will fight this but it is only a matter of time before we win GE labeling, and we’ll continue to push for California to be a leader,” said Bill Allayaud, California Director of Governmental Affairs at Environmental Working Group.
“Thank you to Senator Noreen Evans, the co-authors of SB 1381 and the 19 Senators who voted for this bill for standing up for our basic right to know what’s in our food,” said Debbie Friedman, co-chair of MOMS Advocating Sustainability.
It is noted that Democratic Senators Block, Galgiani, Hernandez and Hill, joined all of the Republicans voting to oppose the bill. Democratic Senators Roth and Correa abstained, which has the same effect as a no vote.
Co-authors of the bill included Senators DeSaulnier, Leno and Pavley and Assemblymembers Levine and Yamada.
Californians for GE Food Labeling is a coalition of organizations, businesses, and networks, including Biosafety Alliance, Californians for Pesticide Reform, California State Grange, CALPIRG, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Environmental Working Group, Food Democracy Now!, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth – US, Good Earth Natural Foods, LabelGMOs.org, Moms Advocating Sustainability, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network North America and Pesticide Watch, dedicated to giving California families informed choices about their food.