Fracking-Affected Food Should Be Labeled, Lawmaker Says

Fracking-Affected Food Should Be Labeled, Lawmaker Says
File photo by Malcolm Carlaw/Flickr

We've had our battles over the labeling of genetically modified food. In 2012 California voters rejected an initiative that would have mandated such warnings.

Now an L.A. area state lawmaker wants to require that food irrigated with wastewater from hydraulic fracturing be labeled. Assemblyman Mike Gatto has introduced a bill that will be considered as part of the Legislature’s Special Session on health.

His office says some farms are using recycled hydraulic fracturing water in the name of water conservation: "Few consumers are aware of the potential health issues from consuming produce irrigated by contaminated water."

Fracking forces water into the ground at high pressure so that hard-to-get fossil fuel can be extracted. 

A report by the California Council on Science and Technology concluded this summer that 316 chemical additives, including bromic acid and hydrochloric acid, were being used in fracking operations. The report said there is a real risk to humans if the water is consumed.

The chemicals have reportedly not been found in recycled water for crops, however. Gatto refutes this:

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

Food that uses recycled fracking water would have to contain the label, "Produced using recycled or treated oil-field wastewater," Gatto's office says.

"Consumers have a basic right to make informed decisions when it comes to the type of food that ends up on the family dinner table," Gatto said. "Labeling food that has been irrigated with potentially harmful or carcinogenic chemicals, such as those in recycled fracking water, is the right thing to do."


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