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Hopes For GE Food Labeling Bill Dashed By NM Senate
Questionable twist leads popular legislation to be “lost” but New Mexicans remain committed to pursuing mandatory labeling
SANTA FE, NM - February 1 - Despite passing the Senate Public Affairs Committee late Tuesday evening after an overwhelmingly positive discussion, Senate Bill 18 to amend the New Mexico Food Act to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food and feed was “deemed lost” after a majority of the Senate, in an extremely rare action, voted on the Senate Floor not to adopt the committee’s report. Under Senate rules, this stopped the bill in its tracks and cut off any further debate or public input.
“Even though SB 18 is dead this year, it’s clear that New Mexicans want and deserve a label that tells them whether or not their food has been genetically engineered,” said the bill’s author Senator Peter Wirth (D-25 Santa Fe). “I greatly appreciate the Public Affairs Committee’s feedback and discussion around the issue of labeling GE food, as well as Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez’s leadership on this issue. GE food labels are a right New Mexican consumers deserve and, while this defeat is a set-back, this discussion will continue at the state and national level.”
The bill passed the Public Affairs Committee five to three with Senators Craig Brandt (R-Dist 40), Ron Griggs (R-Dist 34) and Gay Kernan (R-Dist. 42) voting against. In a roll call vote on the Senate Floor Thursday morning, 23 senators voted to reject the report submitted by Public Affairs Committee Chair Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Dist 12). The senators who traditionally support peoples’ rights who voted the report down were: President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen (D-Dist 38), John Arthur Smith (D-Dist 35), George Munoz (D-Dist 4) and three members of the Corporations Committee, Clemente Sanchez (D-Dist 30), Phil Griego (D-Dist 39), John Sapien (D-Dist 9).
“Food & Water Watch is disappointed that the Senate did not stand up for the rights of consumers to have basic information about their food this week, but we are not discouraged,” said Food & Water Watch’s New Mexico Organizer Eleanor Bravo. “Support for mandatory GE food labels has never been stronger. Just like nutrition and country-of-origin labels before, consumers have the basic right to choose for themselves whether or not to buy and eat GE foods. The time for transparency and truth about GE foods has come and we hope New Mexico’s congressional delegation will lead on this issue the next time around. We will continue to build broad public support for our right to know.”