Produce grown with recycled fracking wastewater may soon come with warning labels

August 24, 2015 1 By Amanda Giasson

California could pass a bill that would require farmers, producers and retailers to place warning labels on certain food products.

Last week, a new bill introduced by a California lawmaker, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, would require farmers, producers and retailers to add a label to food products that had been irrigated with recycled fracking wastewater. More specifically, the warning label would be required for crops that had been hydrated using recycled water that had once been used in gas and oil field activities, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), where water is injected into rock formations to free gas and oil reserves.

Gatto believes it is the basic right of a consumer to make informed decisions about the food they eat.

According to The Huffington Post, in a press release from his office, Gatto said that “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.” He added that providing a label for food products that have been irrigated with recycled water which may contain potentially harmful or carcinogenic chemicals, such as recycled fracking water, “is the right thing to do.”

Fracking - Produce may recive warning labelsIn a statement, Gatto said that “Studies show a high possibility that recycled oil-field wastewater may still contain dangerous chemicals, even after treatment.”

A report found that some farmers in California are using recycled water that had previously been used in fracking.

One of the major debates regarding fracking is whether the controversial mining practice contaminates local groundwater. While federal officials, the petroleum industry, and environmentalists remain strongly at odds on the safety of fracking, and there is no solid evidence that proves hydraulic fracturing is contaminating water, an increase in farmers using recycled water purchased from oil and gas companies, has caused fresh concerns to surface.

A California Council on Science and Technology report from July found that some farmers in the state are irrigating crops with recycled wastewater that was once used in fracking. Furthermore, it revealed that the California fracking industry uses 316 chemical additives, and that the impacts that many of these chemicals have on water quality have not been studied.

That being said, in spite of what the report revealed, it did not find any cases of the recycled wastewater containing the actual chemical additives. It states, however, that further research is required to determine the safety of irrigating crops with recycled fracking wastewater.

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