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Alcohol and California's Proposed GMO Labelling Law

On the November ballot in California is a proposed law to require labelling of genetically modified foods.

This article in USA Today brought up an important exception to the law:

If passed, the law would take effect July 1, 2014, requiring that all foods containing genetically engineered ingredients be labeled "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering" or "May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering."

Exceptions: alcohol and food sold in restaurants. Animals that are fed genetically altered food, and are then eaten by humans, are also exempt.

This wasn't clear to me- is it "alcohol and food sold in restaurants" or "alcohol" and "food sold in restaurants"?

I looked up the language of the initiative. It is here as a PDF file. The relevant language is that the exception is for:

Any alcoholic beverage that is subject to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act,
set forth in Division 9 (commencing with section 23000) of the Business and
Professions Code.

So I think that means all booze, whether or not it is served in a restaurant.

I was wondering about the reason for the exception. I'd like to know the real logic behind it, but it is in line with the other exception for animals that have eaten GMO foods. Yeast consume the raw materials and produce alcohol, so I guess that's the same thing as cows eating GMO corn.

Whatever the logic for the animal-and-yeast exception, it results in alcohol not being labelled as made with GMO ingredients.

And as I mentioned previously, the government won't allow spirit brands to optionally label their products as GMO-free either.



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David T Smith

Interesting article, I've heard a little about the initiative on the radio this morning.

I know EU and US definitions differ but is there anyway (that you know of) a product labelled in the US as organic could contain GMO?

Thus is the issue primarily focussed on products that are non-GMO but not organic?

Sorry for the technical question but I look forward to the answer.

Camper English

Hi - I'm by no means an expert in this, but as far as I know, no organic product can contain GMO in the US. (Note that the organic designation doesn't mean 100% organic, there is a tiny bit of leeway in there, and I'm assuming that GMO could sneak into that tiny allowable percent of non-organic, but it is considered legally negligible.)

So yes, I believe that the legislation is about products that are not organic but GMO-free.


i dont undestamd though why the excemption on alcohol and restaurants? if their already labeling everything else? is it to make us feel satisfied. once the prop has passed people will think their safe but many more of their products are actually being poisoned secretly.

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