Labels Demanded for Frack-Irrigated Food

SACRAMENTO (CN) - A California lawmaker Monday introduced legislation requiring farmers, producers and retailers to label food products irrigated with recycled fracking wastewater.  Assembly Bill 14 , by Rep. Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, would require farmers and manufacturers to inform buyers that the product was grown with water used in oil and gas field activities, including hydraulic fracking. It would require retailers to place conspicuous signs informing customers of products containing ingredients irrigated from recycled wastewater.

 "The bill would also require a farmer, producer, or supplier who knows that the product he or she is selling to a manufacturer or retailer was made with, or consists of, plants irrigated with wastewater to disclose that fact to the manufacturer or retailer," the bill states.

A July report from the California Council on Science and Technology revealed that some farmers are irrigating crops with recycled water used in fracking. It found 316 chemical additives are being used in California fracking and that many of the chemicals' impacts on water quality have yet to be studied.

While the report found no cases of the recycled wastewater actually containing the chemical additives, it said more research is needed to determine whether irrigating crops with recycled wastewater is safe.

Gallo, chairman of the Consumer Protection and Privacy Assembly Committee, said the consumers should be able to make informed decisions about the source of their food.

"No one expects their lettuce to contain heavy chemicals from fracking wastewater," Gatto said in a statement. "Studies show a high possibility that recycled oil-field wastewater may still contain dangerous chemicals, even after treatment."

The bill will be heard during the Legislature's special health session this month.
Labeling food products, including genetically modified organisms, has been a challenge for California lawmakers in the past decade. In 2012, voters narrowly rejected Proposition 37, which would have required producers and retailers to label GMO foods. Reports showed the "No on Prop. 37" campaign was buoyed by $44 million in donations from corporations that included Monsanto and Hershey.

The Agricultural Council of California could not be reached for comment after hours Monday.

Source: Courthouse News Service

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Learn more about the practice of using fracking wastewater on agricultural crops here:

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