Amendment to Label GE Food Pre-Filed for New Mexico Senate’s Consideration
Commonsense legislation will give consumers the right to know what’s in their food
SANTA FE, NM—This week State Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe-25) pre-filed a proposed amendment to the New Mexico Food Act to require the labeling of genetically engineered food and feed. The amendment (SB 18) was drafted with support from the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch and is strongly supported by many national and local organizations and individuals including food cooperatives, organic farmers, environmentalists and food justice proponents.
“The premise of this amendment is simple – New Mexicans deserve the right to know what’s in the food they are eating and feeding to their families,” said Senator Wirth. “Labeling GE foods and feed will empower consumers with basic information to help them decide for themselves the types of food they want to buy.”
Multiple public opinion polls show that the vast majority of American consumers want food derived from genetically engineered crops – plants altered in a laboratory with foreign genetic material to create novel genetic combinations and exhibit traits that do not occur in nature – to be labeled. GE foods have not been tested for long-term impacts on human and environmental health and safety and over 40 countries have mandatory GE food labels including Japan, China and Russia.
“Giving foods with GE ingredients a label will only improve and expand independent health and scientific knowledge about genetic engineering,” said Food & Water Watch’s New Mexico Organizer Eleanor Bravo. “We need the research of genetic engineering to be expanded beyond the companies who own the seeds and stand to profit and labeling will allow this to happen.”
This amendment would change the law to include a label on genetically modified food and feed products that are composed of more than 1 percent genetically engineered material. Since most processed foods and feed products contain some derivative of GE corn, soybean or cotton, they would need to be labeled under this amendment.
Additionally, foods that include alfalfa, canola, papaya, squash, sugar beet and sweet corn would also need to be labeled. An article of food or feed containing GE material that is not labeled would be considered “misbranding” under this new amendment, and violations would be dealt with the same way as current labeling violations are handled.
New Mexico’s environmental improvement board would be charged with establishing standards for measuring and quantifying the amount of GM material in food. There is no specific requirement for where the label should be on the package as long as it is “conspicuous and easily understandable to consumers.”
This amendment will be Senator Wirth’s first filing of his second term as a State Senator. During his two terms in the State House, Senator Wirth carried a variety of legislation signed by the Governor. Some of his successful legislation includes laws to expand an open space tax credit, to restrict the use of eminent domain for private economic development, to allow local governments to enact water conservation ordinances and to better protect homeowners from property damage caused by government action.
SB 18 will be taken up by the legislature when the session begins on January 15 and can be viewed at: http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/_session.aspx?chamber=S&legtype=B&legno=%20%2018&year=13
Eleanor Bravo, Food & Water Watch, 505-730-8474
Senator Wirth, 505-988-1668 ext. 104