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Napa food council endorses GMO food labeling

Recommendation goes to Board of Supervisors

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Napa County’s Local Food Advisory Council has thrown its support behind labeling foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The council voted Wednesday to support a resolution advocating that federal and state regulators require GMO foods to carry labels, which will now go to the Napa County Board of Supervisors.

The councilmembers stopped short of recommending support for a bill in the California Legislature from Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, that would require GMO labeling, saying they’ll need to read and review the bill’s text before taking a stance on it.

Councilmembers voted unanimously on the resolution with little discussion, although community supporters of GMO labeling advocated on its behalf. No one spoke in opposition to labeling or the resolution.

The 15-member council is made up of local citizens and elected officials interested in promoting production and consumption of locally grown and made foods.

Napa City Councilwoman Juliana Inman, a member of the advisory council, said it was the right group to weigh in on the GMO debate. “I think it’s just the kind of voice that we should have for the county,” she said.

The Napa County Democratic Central Committee also supported the resolution, saying it’s needed to give consumers a choice of whether to buy GMO foods.

“We should certainly know whether a food has been genetically engineered,” said Conchita Marusich, local vice chairwoman, who read from a letter on behalf of the committee. “The time has come for consumers, not corporations, to decide what kinds of food we get to eat.”

The resolution was drafted by a subcommittee of the council, and was narrowly focused on labeling without straying too far into the debate over the safety of GMO foods. It did state that GMO foods are allowed to reach consumers without pre-market safety tests.

“We tried to make it very simple,” said council chairman Mike Cromwell. “We tried to make it very basic.”

Advocates are also looking for Napa Valley cities to support the resolution.

Beth Mattei, a member of the subcommittee, said labeling wouldn’t impact farmers or grapegrowers in Napa County, as alcohol would have an exemption from the proposed legislation.

“Labeling would allow consumers to support the kinds of crops they want to support,” Mattei said.

Yountville resident Chip Bouril urged the councilmembers to support the resolution.

“It’s about local food choice and it’s about local food quality,” Bouril said. “You can provide a voice that’s very much needed in this political debate.”

This story has been corrected. GMO foods are allowed to reach consumers without pre-market safety tests.


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