Senator Noreen Evans, from the Santa Rosa district, this week introduced a new bill to label genetically engineered food in the state of California. The bill is supported by 7 environmental, consumer groups, foods groups and small businesses called Californians for GE Food Labeling representing over 500,000 Californians.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS), one of the founding members of the coalition and a driving force behind the bill, released the following statement in support:
“California consumers want the right to know what is in the food they eat, plain and simple. As a founding member of Californians for GE Food Labeling and lead authors of the legislation, we are proud to see our state legislators introduce this important bill. The powerful and vocal demands of the food movement are being heard and acted upon,” said CFS west coast director Rebecca Spector.
“California often paves the way for federal laws,” Spector continued. “Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to date refused to label GE foods, it is up to individual states to lead the way and protect our state’s interests, including public health, consumer right to know, and our farmers and agricultural lands. This bill is an important step toward protecting these interests here in California,” added Spector.
Proposition 37, the previous attempt to pass a California GMO labeling bill failed mainly due to the enormous multi-million dollar resources pumped into an opposing campaign by the grocery manufacturers association and GM food manufacturers. SB 1381 bill is a more refined version of Prop 37, protecting farmers and retailers and placing limitations of potential litigation.
SB 1381 is available in its entirety here
Introduced by Senator Evans
February 21, 2014
An act to add Section 110663 to, and to add Article 6.6 (commencing with Section 110808) to Chapter 5 of Part 5 of Division 104 of, the Health and Safety Code, relating to genetically engineered food.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
SB 1381, as introduced, Evans. Food labeling: genetically engineered food.
Existing law, the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law makes it unlawful to manufacture, sell, deliver, hold, or offer for sale, any food that is misbranded. Food is misbranded if its labeling does not conform to specified state and federal labeling requirements regarding nutrition, nutrient content or health claims, and food allergens. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor.
This bill would require that any food, except as provided, offered for retail sale in the state be considered misbranded if it is entirely or partially genetically engineered, as defined, and that fact is not disclosed in a specified manner. The bill would prescribe labeling requirements for a raw agricultural commodity that is genetically engineered and packaged foods, as defined, containing some products of genetic engineering. The bill would also prescribe who is responsible for complying with those labeling requirements. The bill would authorize the Attorney General or an injured resident of the state to bring an action for injunctive relief against a violation of these provisions, as specified. The bill would authorize a court to award a prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and would prohibit a court from awarding monetary damages in an action brought under the bill’s provisions.
Because this bill would create new crimes by expanding the number of foods that could potentially be misbranded and expanding the definition of the crime of perjury, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
The Legislature finds and declares all of the
3(a) California consumers have the right to know, through
4labeling, whether the foods they purchase were produced with
5genetic engineering, so they can make informed purchasing
7(b) Polls consistently show that the vast majority of the members
8of the public, more than 90 percent, want to know, for health,
9economic, environmental, religious, and ethical reasons, if the
10food they purchase was produced with genetic engineering.
11(c) There is currently no federal or California requirement that
12genetically engineered (GE) foods be labeled. In contrast, 64
13countries, including three of California’s leading trading partners,
14Japan, China, and the European Union member states, as well as
15South Korea, Australia, Russia, and Malaysia, already have laws
16mandating that foods produced through genetic engineering be
18(d) The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
19does not require safety studies of GE foods. Instead, any
20consultations are voluntary and GE food developers may decide
21what information to provide to the FDA.
22(e) Genetic engineering of plants and animals can cause
23unintended consequences. It has been demonstrated that
24manipulating genes through genetic engineering and inserting them
25into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always
26predictable or controllable.
P3 1(f) United States government scientists have stated that the
2artificial insertion of genetic material into plants via genetic
3engineering can increase the levels of known toxicants or allergens
4in foods and create new toxicants or allergens with consequent
6(g) Mandatory identification of foods produced with genetic
7engineering can provide a method for detecting, at a large
8epidemiological scale, the potential health effects of consuming
10(h) Without mandatory disclosure, consumers of foods produced
11through genetic engineering may unknowingly violate their dietary
12and religious beliefs.
13(i) Numerous foreign markets with restrictions on foods
14produced through genetic engineering have restricted imports of
15United States crops due to concerns about genetic engineering.
16Some foreign markets are choosing to purchase agricultural
17products from countries other than the United States because GE
18crops are not identified in the United States, which makes it
19impossible for buyers to determine what does or does not meet
20their national labeling laws or restrictions and thus renders United
21States products less desirable.
22(j) Mandatory identification of foods produced with genetic
23engineering can be a critical method of preserving the economic
24value of exports or domestically sensitive markets with restrictions
25on, or prohibitions against, genetic engineering. With such a large
26export market, GE labeling requirements will give importers greater
27confidence in California’s agricultural products.
28(k) Agriculture is a major economic driver in California, with
29more than 400 commodities generating $43.5 billion in revenue
30in the year 2011. California is the nation’s leading agricultural
31producer, generating half of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and
32vegetables. Agricultural exports in the year 2011 generated $16.8
33billion in revenue, representing 39 percent of total production.
34Preserving the identity, quality, and reliability of California’s
35agricultural products and exports is critical to the state’s economic
37(l) GE crops pose a potential threat to the state’s $1.39 billion
38organic agriculture sector. Organic production accounted for 3.1
39percent of total agriculture earnings in the state and 39 percent of
40organic sales nationally in the year 2011. Organic farmers are
P4 1prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds or feed, yet
2have no protection against possible unintended transgenic
3contamination from neighboring farms. This is a particular concern
4for California’s organic dairy farmers, who generated $127 million
5in revenue in the year 2011. Food labeling gives consumers the
6right to support food production systems that do not threaten the
7integrity and economic well-being of organic agriculture and
9(m) United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data
10shows that California ranks first in organic farm-gate sales. This
11important element of California’s economy must be protected.
12Foods identified as non-GE constitute the fastest growing segment
13in agriculture, with annual sales increases in the year 2011 between
1420 and 27 percent. However, only a small portion of the food
15industry participates in voluntary labeling of foods claimed not to
16be the product of genetic engineering. There are no consistent
17standards for that labeling, or for the enforcement of voluntary
18labels. Thus, voluntary labeling is insufficient to provide consumers
19with adequate information on whether the food they are purchasing
20was produced with genetic engineering, and in some cases the
21labels may be misleading.
22(n) The cultivation of GE crops can have serious effects on the
23environment. For example, in the year 2012, 93 percent of all soy
24grown in the United States was genetically engineered to be
25herbicide resistant. In fact, the vast majority of GE crops are
26designed to withstand herbicides and they, therefore, promote
27indiscriminate herbicide use. As a result, GE crops have caused
28527 million pounds of additional herbicides to be applied to the
29nation’s farmland. These toxic herbicides damage the vitality and
30quality of our soil, contaminate our drinking water, and pose health
31risks to consumers and farmworkers. Further, because of the
32consequent massive increase in herbicide use, herbicide-resistant
33weeds have developed and flourished, infesting farm fields and
34roadsides, complicating weed control for farmers, and causing
35farmers to resort to more and increasingly toxic herbicides.
36(o) The FDA is currently proposing approval of the first GE
37salmon for human consumption. Wild Pacific salmon are a critical
38natural and cultural resource of California and are under increasing
39environmental stress. More than 106 major salmon runs in northern
40California and the Pacific Northwest are extinct and another 214
P5 1runs of wild salmon are at risk of extinction. An escaped GE fish
2could pose additional environmental risk to California’s already
3stressed wild salmon populations and coastal ecosystems by, among
4other things, imposing new competitive pressures on these
5populations for food and space, interfering with effective breeding
6and reproduction, and spreading disease. The west coast salmon
7fishing industry, including both commercial and recreational
8components, has lost an estimated 72,000 jobs during the last 20
9years. In the face of market confusion, seafood consumers may
10avoid purchasing salmon altogether to avoid genetically engineered
11salmon which would further negatively impact California’s wild
13(p) The people of California should have the choice to avoid
14purchasing foods produced in ways that can lead to that
16(q) Labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering as
17provided in this act can be implemented without substantial burden
18to either food producers or the government.
It is the intent of the Legislature, with the enactment
20of this act, to require the labeling of all foods produced with genetic
21engineering sold within the state.
Section 110663 is added to the Health and Safety Code,
A food is misbranded if its labeling does not conform
25to the requirements of Section 110809.
Article 6.6 (commencing with Section 110808) is
27added to Chapter 5 of Part 5 of Division 104 of the Health and
28Safety Code, to read:
30Article 6.6. The California Right to Know Genetically
31Engineered Food Act
The following definitions shall apply for the purposes
34of this article only:
35(a) “Agriculture” means the science, art, or practice of
36cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock or fish
37and, in varying degrees, the preparation and marketing of the
P6 1(b) “Cultivated commercially” means grown or raised by a
2person in the course of business or trade, and sold within the United
4(c) “Food” shall have the meaning set forth in Section 109935,
5except that “food” as used in this article includes only food for
6human consumption and not any food for consumption by animals.
7(d) “Food facility” shall have the meaning set forth in Section
9(e) (1) “Genetically engineered” means produced from an
10organism or organisms in which the genetic material has been
11changed through the application of either of the following:
12(A) (i) In vitro nucleic acid techniques, which include, but are
13not limited to, recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or
14ribonucleic acid (RNA) direct injection of nucleic acid into cells
15or organelles, encapsulation, gene deletion, and doubling.
16(ii) “In vitro nucleic acid techniques” include, but are not limited
17to, recombinant DNA or RNA techniques that use vector systems,
18and techniques involving the direct introduction into the organisms
19of hereditary materials prepared outside the organisms such as
20biolistics, microinjection, macroinjection, chemoporation,
21electroporation, microencapsulation, and liposome fusion.
22(B) Methods of fusing cells beyond the taxonomic family that
23overcome natural physiological, reproductive, or recombinant
24barriers, and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding
25and selection such as conjugation, transduction, and hybridization.
26(2) “Genetically engineered” does not include an animal who
27has not itself been genetically engineered, regardless of whether
28that animal has been fed or injected with any food or any drug that
29has been produced through means of genetic engineering.
30(f) “Label” shall have the meaning set forth in Section 109955.
31(g) “Labeling” shall have the meaning set forth in Section
33(h) “Manufacturer” means the person or entity that makes,
34processes, combines, or packages food ingredients into a finished
36(i) “Medical food” shall have the meaning set forth in Section
38(j) “Organism” means any biological entity capable of
39replication, reproduction, or transferring genetic material.
P7 1(k) “Packaged food” means any food offered for retail sale in
2the state, other than raw food and food served, sold, or provided
3ready to eat in any bake sale, restaurant, or cafeteria that are subject
4to the provisions of Article 6 (commencing with Section 110660).
5(l) “Raw agricultural commodity” shall have the meaning set
6forth in Section 110020.
7(m) “Supplier” means a person or entity that engages in the
8operation of selling or distributing raw agricultural commodities
9that the person or entity has produced, purchased, or acquired from
Any raw agricultural commodity or packaged food
12that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering shall
13be labeled in accordance with this article and is misbranded if not
14labeled in accordance with this article.
(a) (1) A manufacturer of a raw agricultural
16commodity packaged for retail sale shall include the words
17“Genetically Engineered” clearly and conspicuously on the front
18or back of the package of that commodity.
19(2) A retailer of a raw agricultural commodity that is not
20separately packaged or labeled shall place a clear and conspicuous
21label on the retail store shelf or bin in which that commodity is
22displayed for sale.
23(3) A supplier of a raw agricultural commodity shall label each
24container used for packaging, holding, or transporting a raw
25agricultural commodity produced with genetic engineering that is
26delivered directly to a retailer in the state.
27(b) A manufacturer of packaged food containing some products
28of genetic engineering shall label the product in clear and
29conspicuous language on the front or back of the package of that
30food product with the words “Produced with Genetic Engineering”
31or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”
32(c) This section shall not be construed to require a label that
33lists or identifies an ingredient that was genetically engineered, or
34that the words “genetically engineered” be placed immediately
35preceding any common name or primary product descriptor of a
(a) The Attorney General may bring an action to
38enjoin a violation of this article in any court of competent
P8 1(b) Except as provided in subdivision (c), an injured resident
2of the state may, 60 days after giving notice of the alleged violation
3to the Attorney General and the alleged violator, bring an action
4to enjoin a violation of this article by a manufacturer or retailer in
5any court of competent jurisdiction. The court may award to a
6prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred
7in investigating and prosecuting the action. The court shall not
8award monetary damages.
9(c) Neither injunctive relief nor attorneys’ fees and costs shall
10be granted with respect to failure to label any of the following.
11(1) Packaged food in which the materials produced through
12genetic engineering account for nine-tenths of 1 percent or less of
13the total weight.
14(2) Food produced without knowledge or intent to use genetic
16(d) Food is produced without knowledge or intent to use genetic
17engineering under any of the following conditions:
18(1) The food is lawfully certified to be labeled, marketed, and
19offered for sale as “organic” pursuant to the federal Organic Foods
20Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. Sec. 6501 et seq.).
21(2) A manufacturer or retailer who obtained a sworn statement
22from the supplier that the food was produced without knowledge
23or intent to use genetic engineered and has been segregated from,
24and not knowingly or intentionally commingled with, foods that
25may have been genetically engineered.
26(3) (A) An independent organization has determined that the
27food was produced without knowledge or intent to use genetic
28engineering and has been segregated from, and not knowingly or
29intentionally commingled with, foods that may have been
31(B) The determination has been made pursuant to a sampling
32and testing procedure (i) consistent with sampling and testing
33principles recommended by internationally recognized standards
34organizations and (ii) which does not rely on testing processed
35foods in which no DNA is detectable.
36(e) A retailer that is not the producer or the manufacturer of
37food the retailer sells under its brand is not liable under this article
38except if the retailer knowingly and willfully fails to provide
39point-of-purchase labeling for an unpackaged raw agricultural
40commodity. It is a defense in an action under this section that a
P9 1retailer reasonably relied on a disclosure that the food was not
2produced through genetic engineering that is contained in the bill
3of sale or invoice provided by the wholesaler or distributor of the
5(f) No action shall be brought under this section against a farmer
6who is not a retailer or manufacturer. A farmer who swears a false
7statement under this section remains subject to laws pertaining to
9(g) The department shall adopt and enforce regulations necessary
10to implement this article.
The provisions of this act are severable. If any
12provision of this act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity
13shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given
14effect without the invalid provision or application.
No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
16Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
17the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
18district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
19infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
20for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of
21the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within
22the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
Center for Food Safety
CA Legislative Assembly Bill