Ethical Eating

Jeremy Ring Sponsors GMO-Labeling Bill in Florida Senate

For the most part, Florida is not known for being a progressive state.

We mean, how many times have we heard our Confederate-loving brethren in the northern part of our jurisdiction want to secede from the union?

In case you forgot: It happened in the wake of Obama's reelection just over a year ago.

It looks like there may be some progress in terms of liberal -- or even libertarian policy -- as Sen. Jeremy Ring (D-Broward County) recently sponsored a genetically modified organism (GMO) mandatory labeling initiative.

See Also: GMO Experts Jeffrey Smith and Michael Hansen Coming to South Florida for Panel Discussions

Senate Bill 558 calls for mandatory labeling on all products by manufacturers, processors, packers, distributors, and retail food stores that contain GMO or genetically engineered (GE) foods.

The bill must pass through the Agriculture, Commerce and Tourism, Regulated Industries, and Community Affairs committees to make it into law.

If passed, the bill would be effective on July 1, 2014.

It is currently up for review in the Agriculture Committee.

While Ring has aired his concern about passage of the bill -- in an interview with the Sarasota Herald Tribune, he said, "Clearly it's a challenging issue, and I wouldn't guarantee its passage; I certainly hope it gets a fair hearing and debate" -- activists are optimistic.

"I think it's really exciting," said Trish Sheldon of GMO Free Florida. "We have a really strong push here in Florida. Since Connecticut passed, Maine passed, and Hawaii enacted restrictions, we're hoping Florida is the next to go; it's really encouraging."

S.B. 558 is companion to Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda's House Bill 1 in the House of Representatives.

See Also: Florida House GMO Labeling Bill Gaining Support by Senators

Rehwinkel Vasilinda's H.B. 1, also referred to as "Truth in Labeling," calls for mandatory labeling of all GMO foods; it would require that, by January 1, 2016, all food sold in Florida retail outlets that is wholly or partially produced with genetic modified ingredients must have a label indicating so.

Mandatory labeling initiatives were filed in both the House and Senate last year, but neither made it to committee.

Already S.B. 558 has surpassed that benchmark.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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Sara Ventiera