SANTA FE, NM — A New Mexico state senator has proposed legislation to amend state law to require the labeling of bioengineered foods. New Mexico joins Washington, Oregon and California as states that have made the labeling of bioengineered foods a legislative issue.
Senate Bill 18, authored by state senator Peter Wirth, defines a bioengineered material as “a substance that has been produced, enhanced or otherwise modified through the use of recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid technology, genetic engineering or bioengineering.” A product will be considered bioengineered if it is composed of 1 percent bioengineered material as determined by standards of measurement and quantification procedures that are going to be outlined at a later date.
The New Mexico legislation comes on the heels of a contentious labeling initiative in California known as Proposition 37, which was rejected by voters this past November. Proposition 37 garnered a significant amount of national attention and voters in at least two other western states are gathering signatures to put similar propositions on their state’s ballot.
In Washington, the language of Initiative 522 is similar to that of California’s Proposition 37. To ensure the initiative was placed on the state’s ballot, proponents of the legislation needed to gather 241,153 valid signatures from state residents. On Jan. 3, more than 350,000 signatures in support of the initiative were submitted to the Washington Secretary of State.
In Oregon, proponents of labeling bioengineered foods indicated they would conduct a petition drive to place the issue on the state’s 2014 ballot. Oregon voters voted down such a proposal 10 years ago.