Minnesota to consider GMO labeling bill

by Erica Shaffer
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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota became the first state in 2015 to introduce legislation requiring labels on products entirely or partially produced with genetically modified organisms (GMO). Minnesota Sens. John Marty and Foung Hawj introduced the legislation.

SB 335 requires disclosure of "genetically engineered food" on or after Jan. 1, 2017. Specifically:

"...in the case of the package offered for sale, the words "Produced with Genetic Engineering" shall be placed on the package offered for sale in a clear and conspicuous manner by the manufacturer; and in the case of a food, food product, or agricultural commodity that is not separately packaged or labeled, the words "Produced with Genetic Engineering" shall be placed on the container used for packaging, holding, or transporting in a clear and conspicuous manner by the manufacturer, and maintained by the distributor, and on the retail store shelf or bin in which the commodity is displayed for sale in a clear and conspicuous manner by the retailer."

The bill also includes exemptions to the proposed labeling law. For example, a package would not be considered misbranded if the person who produced the food didn't know that the "commodity or food was created with seed or other food that was derived in any way through a process of genetic engineering." Additionally, the use of manure as a fertilizer "must not be construed to mean that the commodity was produced with genetic engineering".

The bill will be referred to the state legislature's Commerce Committee.

Currently, Vermont is the only state to have a GMO labeling law. Connecticut and Maine have laws that could take effect if neighboring states have similar laws. Vermont's law requires most foods containing GMO's to be labeled starting July 1, 2016.
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