NEWS: Rep. Tarr Pre-files Food Security Legislation

Alaska Preference and GMO Labeling are Supported by Alaskans Statewide

January 10, 2014


Today, Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) introduced two bills aimed at increasing food security in Alaska.  One measure would increase the amount of food Alaska agencies buy from local sources, and the second measure would require genetically modified (GMO) food products sold in Alaska to be labeled as such.


“With just 5 percent of our food grown in Alaska, we must do more to address food security now,” said Tarr.  “I’ve been working with Alaskan farmers for over a decade, and these measures can be economic development opportunities for Alaskan businesses.  Alaskans are demanding to know what’s in their food and they want more Alaska grown.” 


The first bill (HB215) would require labeling of genetically modified food products sold in Alaska.  Alaskans across the state supported Tarr’s measure opposing GMO salmon, dubbed Frankenfish, and through that work many asked her to continue the work by requiring labeling of all GMO products. 


“Demanding labeling of GMOs is a growing movement, and I’ve gained support for this effort from Alaskans around the state who want to be able to know about food they’re eating,” said Rep. Tarr. 


Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals modified to include the genetic material from a non-related species and are widely found in many of our most common food products. According to the GMO Verification Project, in recent years approximately 88 percent of the U.S. corn crop, 94 percent of the U.S. soy crop, 95 percent of the U.S. sugar beet crop, and 90 percent or the U.S. canola crop meet the definition of genetically modified.


The second measure (HB238) allows state agencies more flexibility to purchase Alaska grown, even if the cost is slightly more. The bill addresses the Alaska preference statute, commonly referred to as the 7percent Statute, which requires state agencies buy Alaska grown if the price is within 7 percent of the price of other items.  This bill increases that to 12 percent and also includes an audit provision to ensure state agencies follow the law.  Strengthening the enforcement language is a priority of the Alaska Food Policy Council. 


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