California Law Proposed to Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

The California State Legislature recently proposed SB 1381, which requires manufacturers to label genetically modified foods. The bill places limitations on potential litigation and only permits an injured party to collect attorney’s fees and costs. Connecticut and Maine have similar laws but they are contingent upon four or five additional states passing similar legislation. California’s proposed bill does not contain this contingency requirement. 

Many business groups oppose this bill. The Agricultural Council of California estimates the proposed requirements will increase the cost of food, which is arguably unnecessary because modified foods do not pose a health risk. Furthermore, the Agricultural Council of California believes the new requirements will create a new theory of liability that enables individuals to bring forth a claim without proof of harm. 

Those who support the legislation say it is important to enable consumers to make an informed choice regarding the food they eat. Some individuals may have dietary restrictions or a religious basis for not eating genetically modified food. 

If SB 1381 is signed into law, other states may follow California’s lead. The New York State Assembly recently proposed a similar bill.

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