Food ingredient precautions questioned

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 2, 2012 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

While some environmentalists are seeking to qualify a voter initiative for California’s November ballot that would require special labels on genetically engineered food, industry groups are appealing a ruling over inclusion under Proposition 65 of a food ingredient they believe does not warrant listing.

Organic consumer groups and the Institute for Responsible Technology are behind the initiative.  They believe that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies have not adequately regulated genetically engineered ingredients.  The initiative would require a “Prop. 65-like” label on “raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food or any of its ingredients contain or are made of plants or animals with genetic material that has been changed in specific ways.”

Supporters will need to obtain 504,706 signatures by June 4th.  They feel that they have a better chance of achieving their objectives in California than in Washington, D.C.  It’s expected that if this initiative passes, we will see the same flurry of lawsuits that Proposition 65 spawned.

The California EPA’s Office of Health hazard Assessment listed the chemical “4-MEI” as a carcinogen in January of 2011 based on a technical report by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).  Attorneys for the California League of Food Processors, American Beverage Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Coffee Association filed an appeal on February 10th in the Third District Court.  The industry groups charged that the NTP does not meet the requirements for identifying carcinogens under Prop 65, that the study did not evaluate the affect of 4-MEI on humans, and that the listing would mislead the public concerning the health effects of this chemical.  4-MEI is used as a coloring in coffee, beer, cola and many food products.

Industry is very concerned about OEHHA’s aggressive inclusion of chemicals simply because they are listed by “authoritative bodies” (whose scientific scrutiny may be questionable) without full administrative and scientific hearings.

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