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Bill to Label GE Fish Fails in California Legislature

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For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, and our California News page.

You would think that a simple bill requiring the labeling of Frankenfish would pass easily through the California Legislature.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, since Assemblymembers apparently beholden to the bioegineering and biotechnology industry on January 19 voted against a bill, AB 88, that would have required that all genetically engineered (GE) fish sold in California contain clear and prominent labeling.

The legislation, authored by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-6), failed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee by a vote of 9-7. Assemblymembers Harkey, Calderon, Hall, Nielson, Norby, Solorio, Wagner, Campos and Donnelly voted no on the bill, while Fuentes, Bradford, Chesbro, Gatto, Hill, Ammiano and Mitchell voted yes.

Assemblymember Blumenfield, who voted for the bill last May, was out of the room during the vote.

"It's shameful that nine members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee chose to keep consumers in the dark as to whether salmon sold in California is genetically engineered or not, should GE Salmon be approved by the FDA," said Marie Logan of Food and Water Watch. "We will continue to fight for labeling of all genetically engineered foods and continue to urge the FDA to not approve GE salmon, so that this potentially risky product never reaches grocery store shelves. Food & Water Watch will continue working to support national legislation that would stop the approval of GE salmon by the FDA."

The legislation, AB 88, was stalled in Appropriations last year, and was held-over for reintroduction this session by Assemblymember Huffman. This bill is modeled after similar legislation passed in the state of Alaska in 2005 that requires labeling of all genetically modified seafood.

"While we are disappointed that AB 88 failed today, we are encouraged by the level of support the bill received in a tough Committee," according to a statement from the Center for Food Safety (CFS). "The bill’s failure in Committee came despite clear consumer demand for labeling of GE fish."

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