California Voter Initiative: Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods

On November 9, 2011, the Committee for the Right to Know, a consumer advocacy group that focuses on consumer, public health, environmental, and food issues, submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the California state attorney general for title and summary--a necessary step needed to place citizen-created initiatives on the California state ballot. The Committee is preparing the Act for California voter consideration in the November 2012 election. For the Act to qualify for the November 2012 ballot, the Committee must circulate a petition regarding the Act and gather over 500,000 signatures of registered, California voters within 150 days of receiving title and summary from the California state attorney general.

The Act would require genetically engineered or modified foods or foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be clearly labeled as containing genetically engineered material in a manner similar to nutrition information labeling. The Committee describes genetically engineered food as “[a] plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a lab with genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food.” The FDA currently does not require genetically engineered foods or foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients to bear labeling regarding genetic modification.

The full text of the Act, as submitted to the California Attorney General on November 9, 2011 is available here.