LEGISLATION has been introduced in the New Mexico Senate that would require animal feed and human food containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) to be labeled as such.
The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Peter Wirth, an attorney from Santa Fe, N.M., would amend the state's feed and food laws. If it passes the Senate, it then would go to the New Mexico House of Representatives.
The legislation would require that any product that contains more than 1% by weight of genetically modified material be packaged with a label that's "conspicuous and easily understood by consumers."
Genetically modified material is described as a substance that has been modified through the use of bioengineering or genetic engineering.
Regulations for enforcement would be developed by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board.
Wirth, a Democrat, said the bill's premise "is simple: New Mexicans deserve the right to know what's in the food they are eating and feeding their families." The bill would give people the "basic information" needed to decide what kinds of food they want to buy, he said.
Wirth said he introduced the bill after being approached to do so by the environmental activist group Food & Water Watch.
The legislation is one of several state-based initiatives seeking to require the labeling of feed and food that have GMOs in them.
A GMO labeling measure on the California ballot was defeated last year after initially finding overwhelming support in opinion polls; however, it then went up against massive advertising campaigns and other opposition from farm/seed and food producers (Feedstuffs, Nov. 12, 2012).
GMO labeling legislation currently is before the Washington state assembly, and if it's not acted on in the assembly, it will be submitted to voters this fall (Feedstuffs, Oct. 15, 2012). It's largely assumed that the legislature will take the latter route, and polling shows that 72% of the state's voters support the measure.
Ballot initiatives also are being pursued in Connecticut, Vermont and Oregon, and a petition requesting that foods made with GMOs be labeled is pending before the Food & Drug Administration, which has taken the position, after years of research, that conventionally produced foods and GMO-enhanced foods are substantially the same.
FDA's position is supported by the American Medical Assn., National Academy of Sciences and World Health Organization.
Most recently, Mark Lynas, often called one of the founders of the anti-GMO movement, publicly stated that he has reconsidered his position and that science clearly demonstrates that biotechnology is not only safe but critical to feeding the growing global population while protecting natural resources, including water.