The Fight Continues to Label GMOs

Boston, MA –  Today, the statewide coalition of advocates in support of labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) announced that it will redouble its efforts to pass GMO labeling legislation in the next session.

“It’s disappointing that, despite overwhelming public support and a majority of supportive legislators in both the House and Senate, GMO labeling did not come up for a vote this session,” said Martin Dagoberto, campaign coordinator for MA Right to Know GMOs. “We are undeterred in our commitment to get GMO labeling legislation passed. People want to know what’s in the food they eat and we won’t stop fighting until a label is on the side of every food item containing genetically engineered ingredients.”

Over the last year, GMO labeling has garnered unprecedented support. While GMO labeling bills have been filed since 2007, this year, for the first time, the bill was passed out of its original committee. Since the coalition started organizing in April 2013, there has been a 630-percent increase in legislative support (from 20 legislators when the bills were filed in 2013 to 146 currently). Today, a significant majority in both the House and Senate support GMO labeling.

“We got closer this year than we have before,” said Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst). “I am looking forward to success next session!”

“The GMO labeling initiative has a strong coalition of support in both the legislature and across the Commonwealth,” said Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren). “I will continue to be a strong voice in support of GMO labeling and will do everything in my power to get GMO labeling legislation passed in Massachusetts.”

“I am disappointed that this bill, which enjoys the support of a majority of senators and representatives and many of our constituents, was unable to make it to final passage,” said Senator Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge). “The bill simply lets consumers know if their food has been genetically modified and they can then decide on their purchase as better-informed customers. I don’t understand why anyone would want hide this information. If I am re-elected, I will keep pushing for this common sense legislation.”

Awareness of GMO labeling has taken off across Massachusetts, as more than 300 organizations and local businesses, including 150 local farms, joined the coalition’s network, generating nearly 40,000 petition signatures and comments to elected officials in support of this commonsense legislation.

“Over the last year, GMO labeling has become a kitchen table issue,” said Pat Fiero, former state representative and current New England organizer for “We’ve heard from tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents who support GMO labeling and the more people we talk with, the more support we get. We will continue to spread the word until GMO labeling legislation is passed in Massachusetts.”

“Unfortunately, it was the chemical companies and junk food industry that lobbied to keep consumers in the dark, a classic corporate interest vs public interest battle,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for MASSPIRG. “But with momentum, overwhelming support, and common sense on our side it won’t be long before the public interest beats out Monsanto’s interests. I know our coalition will continue to fight for GMO labeling, allowing consumers – not certain companies – the right to know and choose what they are eating.”

For more information visit


Rolling Reminder to Label GMOs: Inside the State House


Curious what’s happening with the Massachusetts GMO labeling bill? Let’s go find out! Join us in the State House starting TOMORROW.

Only 3 days remain of the formal session (ends midnight July 31st). With 146 of 195 legislators voicing their support for this commonsense legislation, we too are surprised it hasn’t yet come up for a vote. We’re thinking they need a reminder of what’s left to do this session…


Join us at the State House, starting Tuesday, July 29th at 11:00 AM.

We will visit offices, sit in the gallery, walk through the halls and be seen.

We will cheer on our legislative leaders and be there to see if anyone would deny our right to know what we’re eating.



What: Rolling Reminder to label GMOs

Where: MA State House (meeting outside the House Chamber)

When: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Tuesday-Thursday, 7/29-7/31/2014*

(And probably into the evening, depending the changing schedule)

**Come for a few minutes or a few hours!!**


RSVP and share the facebook event:

Please email if you can attend to receive instructions.



Here’s a map of where we’ll be meeting on the 3rd Floor (this is outside the main entrance to the House Chamber. Look for people with green buttons (you’ll get one, too!)

Tuesday report-back:

We had a great crew of people today. Thanks to everyone who made it! Several legislators came out to thank us for being there and to exchange words of encouragement. Anything could happen over the next 2 days, and it definitely makes a difference to be there. We’ll be back on the 3rd floor outside the House Chamber at 11 am, hope you can join us!




MA GMO labeling bill stuck in committee– Help bring it up for a vote


Our GMO labeling bill could come up for a vote on the House floor any day now. Unfortunately, with only a week left to this legislative session, it’s apparently stuck in committee with dozens of other bills. We need your help to make GMO labeling a top priority.


Representative Dempsey (D-Haverhill) is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. We already have a broad majority of support on the committee, as well as in both the House and the Senate. But whether or not it can come up for a vote is now up to him. We know he has a lot on his plate. Let’s make sure that our GMO labelling bill moves to the top of the pile.


We need him to hear from his fellow legislators and his constituents.

Please recognize that calls from non-constituents outside Rep. Dempsey’s district won’t be helpful [and might even backfire].


If your representative is one of 119 who have signed on to the campaign, we need you to ask them to contact Chairman Dempsey to move the bill. (If you’ve called recently, maybe you can get a friend or family member to call, too!)


Look up your State Representative, here:

(phone calls and personalized emails are preferred).

See if they’re a listed supporter, here:

(Or click here to send them a message within seconds:


You can say something like:

“As your constituent, I’d like to thank you for supporting my right to know what I’m eating. Please contact Chairman Dempsey to encourage House Ways and Means to move the GMO labeling bill H.3996 this session. We don’t have time to wait.”


If your representative is not yet listed as a supporter, then you should focus on letting them know why this is important to you.


If you happen to know anyone in Haverhill, please encourage THEM to call the Chairman’s office.


A lot can happen in the final days of the legislative session. Massachusetts now has an opportunity to join a regional tipping point toward a more democratic food system. Will you take action to make it happen?


Thanks for your continued efforts!


The MA Right to Know GMOs team


Please visit for full details.

3 weeks for Mass to Pass GMO labeling; Let’s do it!


With incredible grassroots momentum across Massachusetts, food transparency advocates are moving to pass GMO labeling. A broad majority of state legislators (144/195) have responded to constituent demand for this important piece of information and have voiced their support for our need to know. But if a GMO labeling bill is to be voted upon this year, we need those 144 supporters to help make it a priority.

This 2-year legislative cycle ends July 31st. After that, it starts all over again next year.

This is what democracy looks like.
This is how you can help:

We need you to call/email your state legislators’ offices (again).
We need you to thank them*.
We need you to ask them to do everything in their power to help make GMO labeling a priority.

“As your constituent, I’d like to thank you for supporting my right to know what I’m eating. I hope that you will do everything in your power to encourage the legislature to vote on GMO labeling this session. We don’t have time to wait.”

With 30 new GMO crops coming down the pipeline, including coffee, apples, and salmon, and with the chemical manufacturers making moves to outlaw mandatory GMO labeling at the federal level, the people of Massachusetts can’t wait another couple years to pass this commonsense legislation.

Look up your State Representative and Senator, here:
(phone calls and personalized emails are preferred).
See if they’re a listed supporter, here:

(Or click here to send them a message within seconds:

*If your legislator is not yet a listed supporter, you can thank them for listening and encourage them to sign on.

The governments of Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and 64 other countries all want their people to know what they’re eating. Help Massachusetts join this local/global tipping point toward a more democratic food system.

Visit and follow us on facebook/twitter for more information.

Other ways to help:
Print out our poster and put it up at your local library, school, food co-op or coffee shop.










Help spread the word and grow the movement.
Together, we’re taking back our food.

Thank you for your help.

With hope for a more democratic food system,

The MA Right to Know GMOs team

Critical Mass for GMO Labeling

We are lucky to have so many elected officials who support our NEED to know if our food is GMO. Thanks to your help, 119 of 160 representatives (indicated in green) are now on board in support. With less than 6 weeks to pass bill H.3996, we need their leadership to bring it up for a vote!













Use the interactive map of support:

And look up the contact info for your State Rep (follow the profile link).
Call or email their office to say:

“Thank you for leading on GMO labeling! Please contact the chairman of the House Ways & Means committee and encourage him to move H.3996 out of committee so we can pass GMO labeling this session!”

Of course, if your Rep. is not yet on board, politely inform them why this is so important to you!

See the full list of supporters, along with links to their facebook and twitter pages, here:

With 30 new GMO crops coming down the pipeline, including coffee and apples, and with the chemical manufacturers making moves to outlaw GMO labeling (really), we can’t wait another couple years to pass GMO labeling. The chemical manufacturers and junk food companies have already spent more than $70 Million to combat grassroots GMO labeling initiatives. But we are a people-powered movement, and everyone has a right to know if we’re eating GMOs!


Want to do more to help pass GMO labeling? We need your help!
Please sign and share the petition with your networks:

Write a short letter to your local newspaper (Reps often read them!)

We have an online form that will help you do it in minutes:


Study of labeling costs ripped by lawmaker as “scare tactics”

By Colleen Quinn
Published June 17, 2014, 7:34 pm

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 17, 2014….A recently released study pointing to increased food prices if manufacturers are forced to label genetically modified ingredients in food products has invigorated one lawmaker behind the push for so-called GMO labels to get legislation passed.

The study, conducted by a professor from Cornell University and funded by the Council for Biotechnology Information, found that food costs for a family of four in the Northeast region could increase anywhere between $224 to $800 annually, with the average falling at $500.

The study, written by professor William Lesser, attributes higher food costs to increased labeling costs, warehousing additional items, and any costs supermarkets incur for stocking and tracking newly-labeled products. Lesser said the lower cost estimate is calculated if manufacturers label existing products containing GMOs, and the highest number incorporates possible changes in products to use only all organic ingredients.

There are a number of different ways the food industry could respond to labeling mandates, according to Lesser. “The way the industry responds is going to have a direct affect on the costs,” Lesser told the News Service in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Rep. Ellen Story, an Amherst Democrat who sponsored legislation requiring GMO food labels in Massachusetts, called the study biased, citing its funding source. The study specifically stated it did not take a position on whether or not foods should be labeled.

“My immediate reaction is this sounds like scare tactics,” Story told the News Service Tuesday.


Story said the research is based on a false assumption that manufacturers will try to reformulate their products using non-genetically modified ingredients to avoid the labels that some manufacturers fear will cause consumers not to buy a product.

“That’s absurd. They are not going to do that. What are they going to do, not use corn syrup? Corn syrup is in everything,” she said. “It is clearly a biased study.”

Lesser dismissed the bias accusation. “What I did was be absolutely transparent about what I did. We were right upfront about who it was funded by…the data sources were all laid out,” he said.

A majority of House and Senate members have pledged support for legislation requiring labels for foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. The bill has not surfaced for a vote in either the House or Senate with only 44 days remaining for controversial legislation to be considered in formal sessions.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are being pushed from both sides as proponents of labeling say consumers have a right to know what they are eating, while the food industry argues it is an unnecessary move and should only be dealt with at the federal level so the industry can work within a consistent policy.

While 60 countries require labels, food manufacturers in the United States are not required to label genetically modified foods. Voluntary labeling is an option. Retailers argue that food manufacturers will find it difficult to tailor labels for each state.

“Labeling though has real costs attributable to more expensive ingredients and the process of maintaining product identity and the labeling process itself, among others,” the study states.

Vermont recently passed legislation requiring GMO labels, prompting the Grocery Manufacturers Association to file suit in U.S. District Court in Vermont.

Maine and Connecticut also enacted labeling laws for engineered food, but those laws won’t go into effect until other states in the region do the same. New York is also contemplating legislation. The study conducted by the Cornell professor estimated the costs to consumers in the Northeast if labeling of genetically modified foods was mandated. The study region included 11 states, and Washington D.C., with a combined total population of 63.5 million in 2013.

Genetically engineered seeds were first introduced in the early 1990s for numerous reasons, including the ability to resist insects or herbicides. While there is little science around the safety of engineered seeds, the Food and Drug Administration has not found them to be unsafe, both sides of the issue agree. Scientists fall in both camps, with some dismissing concerns over GMOs and others saying they are too new to understand the biological effects.

Groups opposing the mandatory labeling legislation here include the Massachusetts Food Association, Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance, Grocery Manufacturers Association of America, and Biotechnology Industry Organization, and the Massachusetts Association of Dairy Farmers.

“The dairy farming industry is a major component of local food production in Massachusetts; we oppose this mandatory and costly labeling bill because it would create disparity between states in which we sell our products,” Dave Shepard, president of the Massachusetts Association of Dairy Farmers, said in a statement announcing the study.

The study said experiences with GMO labels in Europe show many shoppers will avoid genetically modified foods or pay less for foods with genetically modified ingredients.

“Finally it should be emphasized that the figures presented here are estimates as no one knows how consumers, and the food industry, will react if labeling is mandated,” the study stated.

(read the rest of the article, here: )


Breaking: Majority of MA legislators support GMO labeling, need our help to pass it

6/4/14 Press Conference to announce majority of legislative support for GMO labeling. Pictured from left to right: Rep. Todd Smola, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, Campaign Coordinator Martin Dagoberto, Rep. Sarah Peake, Rep. Denise Provost.

6/4/14 Press Conference to announce majority of legislative support for GMO labeling. Pictured from left to right: Rep. Todd Smola, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, Campaign Coordinator Martin Dagoberto, Rep. Sarah Peake, Rep. Denise Provost.

Today we officially announced that we have a majority of support in the Massachusetts legislature for GMO labeling. In response to grassroots support across the state, 142 of the 195 sitting legislators have so far endorsed our campaign for commonsense food transparency! Bill H.3996 is now in the House Ways & Means Committee, one step before a full House vote.

BUT… We need your help if bill H.3996 is to come up for a vote before the session ends in July (otherwise the bill is dead)! Please call or write today to politely remind your legislators: We need GMO labeling to be a priority! With your help (and their help), we can pass this bill:

“I’m your constituent and I need to know what I’m eating. Please encourage the House Ways and Means Committee to advance H.3996 so that it can come up for a full vote.”

Click here to look up your State Representative:

or click here to send them a message within seconds:

We had a great press conference today to make the big announcement: We now have 142 legislators who have officially endorsed YOUR Right to Know what you’re eating (we actually had 2 sign up at the press conference)! If your legislator is on the list, be sure to thank them. If not, ask them to sign on! Either way, we need to remind them that we need them to pass GMO labeling THIS SESSION.

See the list of legislative supporters:

As always, stay tuned to the MA Right to Know GMOs Facebook page and website for the latest updates and action alerts. If we keep this energy up, we will soon join Connecticut, Maine and Vermont in this regional tipping point toward greater transparency in our food economy.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

For more ways to take action, please visit (and share) this page:

The Massachusetts GMO labeling campaign is being organized by a coalition of groups including MASSPIRG, MA Right to Know GMOs, and NOFA/Mass with the support of nearly 300 local farms, businesses and advocacy groups.



June 4, 2014

Majority of State Legislators Support GMO Food Labeling
140 Representatives and Senators Pledge their Support 

Boston, MA – Today, a coalition of consumer, community, farming and public health organizations working to pass a GMO food labeling law announced that a majority of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate have pledged their support for GMO food labeling legislation. In total, 140 Massachusetts legislators – including 117 from the House of Representatives and 23 from the Senate – have signed on in support of GMO labeling legislation. Foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients are commonly known as GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

“We are extremely lucky to have so many incredible legislators supporting this effort here in Massachusetts,” said Martin Dagoberto, Campaign Coordinator at the MA Right to Know GMOs coalition. “The level of support from both the House and Senate, as well as from residents from across the state speaks to the momentum behind passing a GMO labeling bill this session.”

Recently, Senate President Pro Tempore Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge) became the twenty-first member of the Senate to endorse H. 3996, a GMO labeling bill, giving it a majority of support in that legislative body. He joins a bipartisan group of state legislators from every region of the Commonwealth who have now formed majorities in both chambers.

“Consumers have a right to know what is in their food, especially with so many concerned about food allergies,” stated Senate President Pro Tempore Richard T. Moore. “Labeling foods containing genetically modified ingredients would strengthen consumer protection in a way that is reasonable and not overly burdensome.”

Last month, the Committee on Health Care Financing passed H. 3996 out of their committee, following the passage of the bill from the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in March. The bill is currently pending before the House Committee on Ways & Means. If signed into law, the bill would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients would be clearly labeled.

“This is a reasonable request about a basic right we should have: knowing what is in the food we eat,” said Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst) The broad support we see across both parties, from our most conservative members, to moderates, to progressives, shows that this bill will not be controversial. This is something we all want to accomplish before the end of session in July.”

“At the end of the day, residents here in Massachusetts deserve transparency around something as fundamental as the food they eat and feed their families,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director for MASSPIRG. “Whether we want to seek out or avoid GMOs, this bill will allow consumers to make more educated and informed choices about the food they purchase.”

“On behalf of the 1,200 NOFA/Mass members, and many of the other 7,700 farm families in Massachusetts, I want to thank the legislature for listening to our request to label GMOs in crops and food,” said Jack Kittredge, Policy Director at Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter. “It is heartening to see that a majority of members of both the State House of Representatives and Senate favor GMO labeling. They know that honesty and transparency are the best policies to build trust and to grow successful businesses.”

Legislators are adding their support to this important debate, joining the broad and growing list of supporters for GMO labeling, including consumer, food safety, public health, community, and other organizations. According to a poll conducted by the New York Times, 93 percent of Americans support labeling foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.

“It has always been my strong belief that people have the right to know what is in their food,” said Representative Todd Smola (R-Palmer).  “I am extremely pleased to see how much support this important initiative has gained in both the Massachusetts House of Representative and the Senate.”

“This is a matter of transparency, of basic consumer rights,” said State Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington).  “Several hundred constituents have been in touch to tell me they feel the same way.  Other New England states have passed GMO labeling laws, and Massachusetts should act next.”

“This bill, in its simplest form, provides residents in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with information on the foods they are consuming,” said Representative Michael J. Moran (D-Boston). “It is important to know what we are feeding our families.”

“This is an important issue to me.  I strongly believe we have the right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our families,” said Representative Stephen L. DiNatale (D-Fitchburg). “This legislation will simply insure that Massachusetts consumers are well informed.”

A full list of supportive state legislators is below. For more information on the coalition visit or find us on Facebook.


Be Seen! Photo-mosaic for GMO labeling and upcoming Rally!

Our voices are being heard inside the State House. Now it’s time to be seen. 


More than 20,000 Massachusetts residents have signed our petition asking elected officials to pass a law requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs). Now, more than half of the State Representatives have signed on to a “Dear Colleague” letter to the Speaker of the house in strong support of GMO labeling. But, if we’re going to pass our GMO labeling bill, H.3996, this session (which ends in July), we need to be heard and seen by all of them. We are asking for supporters across the state to submit pictures for a photo-mosaic that will be displayed in the State House, and we also invite you to join us this weekend at the March Against Monsanto! (details below)

Please print out this small sign and take a picture in front of a place that’s important to you: your farm, your food co-op, your family, or a recognizable Massachusetts landmark. We want to show them our faces, give them our names, show them that people all over the Bay State are demanding to know if they’re eating GMOs.


(Download the color PDF or the greyscale version.) With 30 new crops in the GMO pipeline (including apples and coffee!), and industry minions pushing federal legislation that will make it illegal to require labeling, we can’t afford to wait until 2016 for another try at this. Vermont just made history by signing into law the first “no strings attached” GMO labeling bill. Let’s join them, Connecticut and Maine in this regional tipping point toward transparency in food labeling.

Directions (UPDATE: Deadline extended to June 30, keep them coming!)

1. Please RSVP to (and share) our facebook event for this campaign so that we know how many people are planning to do this (and so we can follow up with you).

2. Print out this image (color or grayscale). You may want to mount it on cardboard.

3. Put your name and town (or name of business/farm/organization) in the outline of Massachusetts

4. Take a picture (selfie’s welcome!) in front of a place that’s important to you (note: be sure to frame the image like our examples, so that the sign can be read and so they can see your face!)

5. Post the picture to the above facebook event OR email it to us at

6. Optional/suggested: Post the picture to social media using the hashtag #labelgmos

Campaign Update:

Bill H.3996 has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. This is usually the final stop before a bill gets to the floor of the house for a full vote. But we need to make it a priority for the committee, otherwise it will just sit there. We are continuing to ask our supporters across the state to call their legislators to ask them to talk to the House Ways and Means Committee about moving the GMO labeling bill THIS SESSION.

UPDATE: We used the first wave of submissions to make this poster, which was displayed at our press conference on June 4th. We have some other great ideas, so please keep them coming!


On behalf of the MA GMO labeling coalition: MASSPIRG, MA Right to Know GMOs, and NOFA/Mass, thank you. This is a volunteer-driven campaign, and we couldn’t do it without you. We hope to see your faces on the screen AND in the streets!

With hope and gratitude,

Martin Dagoberto

Campaign Coordinator

PS. Magnify your efforts:

Please ask your friends and community members to take pictures, too! Pass this message along OR set up at your local farmers market or other community event and get a bunch of pictures at once to send us! We recommend cutting a rectangle out of one copy of the sign and using another piece of paper behind it for people’s names/towns. ***Anyone who sends us 5 or more pictures will be entered into a raffle for free gifts from our sponsors, including Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee and Suja Juice, as well as #LabelGMOs tshirts and stickers! (please note, if you’d like to do outreach for the campaign, we also have petitions and fliers on our website). 

Vermont Governor Signs GMO Labeling Bill into Law

Momentum grows for GMO food labeling in Massachusetts


On Thursday, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the nation’s first “no strings attached” GMO food labeling bill, set to go into effect on July 1, 2016. Similar legislation is being considered by 29 other states, including Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, momentum around GMO labeling continues to build. Currently, nearly half the legislature has pledged support for GMO labeling and more than 23,000 Massachusetts residents have signed a petition urging legislators to pass a labeling bill. Additionally, nearly 300 Massachusetts business and organizations have endorsed the effort, including 160 farms and local food retailers.

“Vermont has set the standard for GMO labeling,” said Martin Dagoberto, Campaign Coordinator for MA Right to Know GMOs, who traveled to Vermont to attend the bill signing. “There is undeniable momentum behind GMO labeling across the northeast with efforts underway in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Maine. People want to know what’s in the food they eat, and it’s exciting to see state governments taking action.”

Last month, the Massachusetts legislature’s Committee on Health Care Financing passed out of committee, H. 3996, a GMO labeling bill. If signed into law, the bill would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients would be clearly labeled. The bill is now on its way to its next committee, likely the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“We know that from Massachusetts, to Vermont, to California and Oregon, people want to know what’s in the food they eat,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director at MASSPIRG. “Vermont has become a national leader in the effort to give consumers the information they need to make important health decisions for their families. I’m confident Massachusetts will follow suit.”

For more information about the coalition visit or find us on Facebook.