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Anti-GE Labeling Bill Update

An Oregon bill aimed at limiting food labeling laws, including GE labeling, has been passed by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee in a 6-1 vote. It will now be debated on the floor of the House sometime late this week or early next week.
The bill, HB 2957, which was introduced by Rep. Jeff Kropf (R-Halsey), the Chair of the House Ag & Natural Resources Committee, has been rewritten to be quite ambiguous. The new text of the bill states: "SECTION 1. (1) A local government may not impose a requirement for the disclosure or display of information on a food label. (2) If a food is subject to a federal requirement for disclosing or displaying information on the label, a state agency may not impose a labeling requirement regarding the same information that is more stringent than the federal requirement."

At a public hearing last Thursday, two representatives from NW Rage and a representative from a newly formed anti-GE group in Portland, GE Free Oregon, spoke out against the bill, while representatives from the Grocery Association and a group called Oregonians for Food and Shelter ( http://www.ofsonline.org/) spoke in favor of the bill. The 7-member House Committee passed the bill in a 6-1 vote. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Rep. Kelley Wirth (D-Corvallis).

I spoke with the representative from GE Free Oregon, Rick North, and he confirmed that this law, although ambiguous, would serve to limit labeling of any kind and was especially aimed at GE labeling. He ran it past three lawyers, and even they weren't sure what it meant, but the key phrase, he said, is "more stringent."

If passed in the House (which is likely with a Republican majority), the bill would then be heard by the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, a four-member group split evenly between Dems and Republicans. (Of course, this doesn't mean much, since 2 Dems in the House Ag Committee voted in favor of the bill.) I'll keep you updated as I hear more information.

Previous story with background info. on Kropf's campaign contributions:  http://www.portland.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=55078&group=webcast