By Derrick DePledge
The state Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on Monday evening moved out a GMO labeling bill.
The bill, by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, is not that different from legislation that cleared the Senate Health Committee in late January. It would require food with genetically modified organisms offered for retail sale to carry labels starting in January. Violators could face $500 fines and one year in prison.
But the beauty of the bill -- and the reason the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee held a joint hearing Monday -- is its referral. The bill does not have a referral to the Senate Agriculture Committee, where Sen. Clarence Nishihara, the chairman, is opposed to GMO labeling.
The bill -- if it passes the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday -- would go before the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Sen. Rosalyn Baker, the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, is skeptical about GMO labeling, but the path for the bill might be a little easier with the Senate Agriculture Committee out of the picture.
*Update: The Senate Health Committee voted 2 to 1 on Thursday to advance the bill.