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Update on Frankenfish Bills in California

The White House Bulletin
May 22, 2002


TRANSGENIC SEAFOOD LABELING BILL CLEARS
KEY CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE. California State
legislation to require the labeling of genetically modified fish and
shellfish cleared its first hurdle 25 June when AB 791 passed the Senate
Health & Human Services Committee. "California consumers should be
entitled to make informed decisions about genetically engineered fish,"
said the bill's author, Assemblywoman Virginia Strom Martin
(D-Duncan Mills). "This bill gives consumers the right to know if
seafood is genetically engineered and the right to choose to, or not to,
consume the food." A statement from Strom-Martin's office cited
potential human health risks, such as toxicity and allergenicity, posed by
the commercialization of transgenic fish. Strom-Martin chairs the
California Legislature's Joint Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture.

"The passage of this bill by the Health Committee is good news too
for fishing men and women who bring to market a wild, unaltered food
product. Labeling is essential for consumers to be able to know what's
natural and what's not," said Natasha Benjamin, who heads the Institute
for Fisheries Resources' "Good Fish - Seasonal, Healthful, Sustainable"
program. "It's just too bad the seafood distributors' association and
agribusiness persist on keeping the public in the dark about differences
in fish by opposing truth-in-labeling legislation." AB 791, supported by
a coalition of consumer, conservation and fishing organizations, is the
first labeling bill for genetically modified foods to pass a major policy
committee in the United States. For more information go to:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_791&sess=CUR&house=A&author=strom-martin

5:26/03. "FRANKENFISH" BILL STALLED IN CALIFORNIA
ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE: SB 1525 (Sher), a California State bill to
prohibit the introduction of genetically modified fish into state waters
(see Sublegals, 5:23/07; 5:18/06; 5:15/09; 5:09/01) stalled in the
Legislature's Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee on 27 June,
when the committee refused to vote on the measure. The bill had been
taken up on 25 June, but was put over for two days for vote only. The
27 June "vote only" session turned out to be anything but. Committee
staff invited in opponents of the measure, including Aqua Bounty and
the California Seafood Institute (represented by the same lobbyist), the
California Aquaculture Association and various biotech firms arguing
that the bill would stop research and signal that the state was somehow
bad for the biotech industry. "The action, or inaction, by the Committee
is a momentary set back. However, we're determined to see legislation,
regulations, or both passed to protect our natural fish from any threat
from transgenic organisms, regardless of the lies and obfuscation tactics
of our opponents," said PCFFA's Zeke Grader.
--



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