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Back in January, almost 10 states were weighing bills that sought to address GMO labeling and cultivation. How things have changed since then. Now it seems 20 states are considering measures, with two others — Colorado and New Hampshire—having already rejected legislation. Others will inevitably fade as well—last year 26 bills turned into only two laws—especially in places like Pennsylvania and Illinois where the bills were introduced last session, had little movement then, and were automatically carried over into 2014. Then there will be those that don’t make it out of committee, such as companion bills in Washington State that would require GMO labeling for fin fish, a move intended to protect the state’s salmon industry from the GMO salmon that is awaiting approval at FDA.
So which bills are worth keeping an eye on?
VermontThe Green Mountain State is moving toward becoming the first in the nation to require GMO labeling with no strings attached. The House passed the bill by an overwhelming majority last year, and the bill, H. 112, has been cleared by the Senate Agriculture Committee. Currently the Judiciary Committee is considering it and is likely to hold hearings early in March. A second measure that would make manufacturers and growers of GMO crops liable for trespassing and damages should their seed drift into other fields hasn’t seen any action since it was introduced in January. The bills are here: http://bit.ly/KyE5fz & http://bit.ly/1gxTmrE
Maryland: HB 1191 and its companion measure SB 778 are labeling measures introduced Feb. 7 and Jan. 31 respectively. They have garnered a lot of support in a short amount of time. The House bill has 19 sponsors, while the Senate version has eight, and a hearing has already been scheduled for March 11: http://bit.ly/1hIds7p
Hawaii: With several counties passing measures on the cultivation of GMO crops and putting restrictions on test plots, it comes as little surprise that Hawaii’s legislature is weighing action in relation to GMOs. SB 2454 was introduced Jan. 17 and seeks to establish a task force to assess what actions, if any, the state should take on the cultivation of GMOs. The group would have to issue a report with recommendations to the legislature in 2016. The bill has been approved by Senate committees on agriculture, ways and means, education and the judiciary and labor, and appears poised to soon head for a full vote: http://1.usa.gov/1fukR74
A second measure, SB 2521, would require the labeling of GMO foods as of January 1, 2015, and has cleared Senate committees on health, the judiciary and labor: http://1.usa.gov/NpetTQ
New Jersey: S 91 and its companion measure A 1359 would require labeling of GMO foods and were introduced in mid-January. They have already garnered 13 and 15 sponsors respectively: http://bit.ly/Npfxr1
California: After Prop. 37, the narrowly defeated 2012 ballot initiative, it seems that lawmakers in Sacramento are ready to tackle the GMO labeling issue themselves. SB 1381 was introduced Friday by Sen. Noreen Evans, who has described the bill as a “cleaned up” version of the ballot initiative, placing the burden for labeling on food manufacturers and closing loopholes that opponents of the 2012 measure said would result in frivolous litigation: http://bit.ly/1gpDmas
The other states considering measures are Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.