Boxer’s new bill would require labels for GE foods

The Food and Drug Administration would be required to clearly label genetically engineered food, under legislation introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Boxer said in a news release. “This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”

Boxer’s office says surveys have found more than 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered foods. The FDA now requires labeling of more than 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but in a 1992 policy statement allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not “materially” different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.

But Boxer notes that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes, and more than 1.5 million Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging the agency to label GE foods.

Bozer’s and DeFazio’s “Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act” would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood; the FDA would be directed to write new labeling standards consistent with other U.S. and international standards. So far, 64 nations already require labeling of GE foods, including all the member of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Boxer’s office described the legislation as bipartisan, but of the nine senators and 22 House members who are original co-sponsors, the only two Republicans are U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. The House cosponsors include Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.

California voters in November narrowly defeated Proposition 37, which would’ve required labeling of genetically engineered food with some exceptions.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • GV Haste

    Better get ready to re-label every single product in the store that includes corn or high fructose corn syrup, because 80% of the corn grown is modified.

    As such, about 50% of all products will be GMO.

    Good luck. This will soon make the labels like those Prop 65 stickers we see everywhere to the point they are completely ignored even by the most concerned.

    We’ve all been eating GMO products daily for years.
    About as danerous to the average person as Smart Meter radio waves.

  • RR senile columnist

    GV is right. Another piece of Lefty fluff that ‘s predicated on the notion foodies know what’s best for everybody. Unit-price labels accomplished nothing and this is another waste of ink

  • Elwood

    The minute Joe Biden was sworn in as Veep, Boxer became the Senate’s stupidest member.

  • Chad Wozniak

    Is super-rich Boxer willing to reimburse food producers and the public for the extra costs her bill will impose? Obviously, she’s too rich to feel those extra costs, but lots of middle-class and lower-income people will feel them big time.

  • JohnW

    “FDA…allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not materially different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.”

    But what about that mutant orange hair that suddenly grows on the tip of your nose?

  • JAFO

    @3 True enough. Crazy Uncle Joe’s transfer from the floor of the Senate to Obama’s executive wing marginally raised the IQ levels in both branches of government.

  • JAFO

    @4 Read the user instructions more carefully, John. You’re not supposed to apply the Rogaine to your nose.

  • JohnW

    I thought you were supposed to swallow the Rogaine an hour before sexual activity and rub the Viagra on the scalp. No wonder nothing is working.

  • JAFO

    @8 See how effective detailed instructions are. How does anyone expect GE food labels to be of any value to the average shopper?

  • JohnW


    Especially when dealing with electricity. Speaking of which, I don’t pretend to know that much about GE foods. Didn’t even know GE made food, but I like their light bulbs and microwaves.

    I voted against Prop. 37 (GMO labeling) in November. If I don’t understand a proposition, “No” is my default setting. That said, food labels these days contain lots of required useful information on calories per serving, sodium, sugar etc. And lots of people, including me, pay attention. How difficult could it be to at least say the product is or isn’t GMO?

  • Andrew

    The USA is years behind the rest of the developed world in terms of GE/ GMO foods. The European Union (450 million population) has already banned most of this technology; exceptions for specific exclusion zones. They have had labeling laws for a while, too. This isn’t some sort of joke, as many of todays commentators seem to think. Americans need to educate themselves on this issue Why would you want to eat lab experiments without your prior knowledge and consent ?

  • Elwood

    ” How difficult could it be to at least say the product is or isn’t GMO?”

    They’ll just use some sort of standard disclaimer. As has been pointed out previously in this thread, almost everything contains at least some GMO ingredients. That horse was out of the barn long ago.

    And I don’t give a rat’s patootie what some European twits might or might not do.

  • Common Tater

    Babs is really getting panicked. I just wish she would stay the hell out of our lives.