Senate Votes to Label GE Fish in Democrat Budget

In a surprise vote, the Senate passed an amendment to the Democrat’s 2014 Budget bill to require labels on genetically engineered (GE) fish. 

Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) offered the amendment. Passed by voice vote, it also creates a revenue-neutral reserve fund to support labeling.

In advocating for passage of the amendment, Begich pointed to the fact that more than 60 countries require genetically modified foods to be labeled, including Japan, Australia, Brazil, China, Russia and the European Union. He also noted that major supermarket chains, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have already said they would not sell GE fish if it’s allowed to enter the market.

More than one million people have filed public comments with the FDA opposing GE fish, particularly the lack of labeling.

"While the Senate Democrats’ budget plan is non-binding, and reconciliation with the GOP-led House version is unlikely, passage of the Begich amendment will further increase the pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to require the labeling of GE fish, if approved," says the Center for Food Safety.

The amendment was co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico).

It’s interesting that while the Senate voted in favor of labeling GE fish, they also passed the Monsanto Rider, which removes protection from the public from GMO foods. The reason could well be because the Rider didn’t even come up for discussion and many Senators didn’t realize they were voting for it as part of the overall budget. Since it is part of the Continuing Resolution budget for 2013, the Rider only stays in place through October if it’s not included in the final 2014 budget.

Here’s a map that shows the 60 countries that require GMOs to be labeled:

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