EXCERPT: A Rutgers University poll published in November 2004 confirmed earlier findings that nine-out-of-ten Americans (89 percent in the most recent poll) want to have genetically engineered foods labeled.
First-Ever U.S. Labeling LEGISLATION for Genetically Engineered Food BECOMES LAW in Alaska
Statement from Tracie Letterman, Fish Program Director for Center for Food Safety, following Alaska governor Frank Murkowski signing into law the nation’s first labeling legislation for genetically engineered food. Senate Bill 25 requires that genetically engineered fish be "conspicuously labeled to identify the fish or fish product as a genetically modified fish or fish product," whether packaged or unpackaged.
"Alaska has become the first state to give its citizens what 90 percent of Americans want - labels for genetically engineered foods. We anticipate that this legislation will be a bellwether for other state efforts to label biotech foods. It's only a matter of time before all states move to fill in the regulatory gap left by the Federal government's failure to require mandatory labeling."
BACKGROUND: Senate Bill 25 was approved unanimously by the Alaska Senate in March and the House in early May, and was signed by Governor Murkowski on May 19 (see Senate Journal record at: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_jrn_page.asp?session=24&bill=SB25&jrn=1708&hse=S).
Numerous jurisdictions around the country have passed or are working on legislation to regulate genetically engineered foods in the absence of U.S. government oversight or restrictions. Often these bills are intended to protect local farming from biotech contamination, or human health and the environment. A Rutgers University poll published in November 2004 confirmed earlier findings that nine-out-of-ten Americans (89 percent in the most recent poll) want to have genetically engineered foods labeled.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing an application for approval to commercialize genetically engineered salmon developed to grow much more rapidly that wild salmon.
Center for Food Safety (CFS) reviewed the language of the bill and worked to support its passage. CFS has worked around the country in support of labeling legislation for genetically engineered foods and to prevent genetically engineered fish from invading our oceans and harming human health.
The legislation identifies genetically modified fish as "a finfish or shellfish whose genetic structure has been (A) altered at the molecular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes, including recombinant DNA and RNA techniques, cell fusion, gene deletion or doubling, introduction of exogenous genetic material, alteration of the position of a gene, or similar procedure; (B) the progeny of a finfish or shellfish described in (A) of this paragraph." The term "genetically modified fish product" is defined as any "”¦product prepared from a genetically modified fish."
CONTACT: Craig Culp, Center for Food Safety, (202) 547-9359, (301) 509-0925