Over the past year, genetically modified organisms (GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) foods have stirred quite some controversy in the news.
It started with the vote and failure of California's proposition 37, which called for mandatory labeling of all foods containing GMOs. When it was first filed, public support was immense. By the time voting day came around, after the biotech industry dumped vast sums of money into anti-labeling ad campaigns, public support faded out.
Then came the Monsanto Protection Act, hidden in the Continuing Resolution Act, Section 735, Called the Farmers Assurance Provision, it requires the USDA to approve the harvest and sale of GMO crops even if environmental studies have been ruled inadequate by a court of law.
See also: Obama Signs Monsanto Protection Act
Obviously, the public was pissed in the aftermath.
Since then GMO labeling bills have passed in a number of states including Connecticut and Maine.
Florida's bills did not even make it to committee in either the House or Senate; however, just this week, House Representative Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda filed yet another mandatory labeling bill to introduce in the upcoming legislative session.
House Bill One would require the labeling of all foods containing GMOs (or GE products).
In the United States, there are no federal regulations requiring such labeling initiatives and many states are still awaiting passage of similar bills in neighboring states in fears of backlash from the biotech industry -- companies like Monsanto have threatened to sue states that pass labeling initiatives.
Throughout the world, 61 countries including Australia, Japan, South Korea, the European Union member states, and even democratic China have laws that require identification of GMOs in food.
"House Bill 1 would establish a consistent and enforceable standard for labeling all foods produced using genetic engineering, and thus provide Florida's consumers with knowledge of how their food is produced," said Representative Rehwinkle Vasilinda. "I received over 1,500 petition cards from Floridians who asked that they be afforded the opportunity to be fully informed about whether the food they and their families purchase and eat is produced with genetic engineering so that they can choose for themselves whether to purchase and eat such foods. Identifying foods produced through genetic engineering will also help protect our state's agricultural economy. This is an issue where we can all find common ground regardless of party, ideology, income, or culture."
If passed, the bill would enforce mandatory labeling of all foods produced fully or partially with GMO (GE) material by July 1, 2014. The label must be affixed to the individual package of food or on the retail store shelf or bin for food that is not packaged or labeled separately. The bill is intended to only affect retail labeling -- alcoholic beverages and food served in restaurants are exempt from the measure.
This is the second year in a row in which Representative Rehwinkle Vasilinda has sponsored this initiative.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.