Testimony on SB 1381, a Bill to Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food
before the California Senate Health Committee
Sacramento, CA
Michael Hansen, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Consumers Union
March 26, 2014

Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony in support of SB 1381, a bill to require labeling of genetically engineered food. My name is Michael Hansen and I am a senior scientist at Consumers Union (CU), the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. Our West Coast Office is in San Francisco. I have worked on the issue of genetically engineered foods for more than 25 years and have been involved in the decisions/debate about these foods at the state, national and international levels.

Genetic engineering (GE) is very different than conventional forms of breeding; it allows exchanges of genes between life forms that could never do so naturally. Scientists have used GE to put spider silk genes into goats and human genes into rice plants. There is global agreement that because genetic engineering is different than conventional breeding, safety assessments should be completed for all GE foods, including crops and animals, prior to marketing. The human safety problems that may arise from GE include introduction of new allergens or increased levels of naturally occurring allergens, introductions of or increases in plant toxins, and changes in nutrition. There may also be other unintended effects. Codex Alimentarius, the food safety standards organization of the United Nations, has developed a set of guidelines for how to assess these risks.

For the full testimony, click here.