California Senate Bill 1381 – which would have required labeling of genetically engineered food in the state – failed a final test this week, falling just two votes shy of the 21 needed to pass.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, received a 19 to 17 vote, needing 21 for passage. Evans called for a reconsideration vote of the bill Thursday, where it again failed to garner the votes needed.
Supporters of the bill said lawmakers missed the opportunity to provide consumers a right to know how their food is produced.
Elisa Odabashian, West Coast Director of Consumers Union, a bill supporter, vowed the issue would return.
"This issue is not going away--thousands of consumers told their state legislators they want labeling of GE food and Consumers Union will continue to support their efforts," she said in a statement Thursday.
California voters previously rejected a 2012 ballot measure that would have also required GMO labeling. That measure received 48.6% of voter support, just narrowly missing passage.
Opponents of GMO labeling argue such a requirement could be costly to farmers and consumers, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require labeling of GE foods on the grounds that they are "not materially different from other foods."
Earlier this year Vermont became the first state in the nation to label GE foods. Connecticut and Maine have already passed labeling legislation, but the enactment of those laws is contingent upon other states passing similar legislation.