Food Fighters from Across the US Rally to Protect States’ Rights

Our friends from PA at the rally to stop the DARK act on Dec. 12, 2014 (waiting on the pic of Mass)

Our friends from PA at the rally to stop the DARK act on Dec. 12, 2014 (waiting on the pic of Mass)

Last Wednesday, dozens of Bay Staters were among nearly 600 farmers, consumers and citizens of all stripes who traveled—many overnight on crowded buses—to Washington D.C. to voice opposition to a federal bill stripping states of their right to pass GMO labeling laws. After the hearing and rally, MARTK organizer Martin Dagoberto met his Congressman’s office, and they offered to help us activate the rest of the Massachusetts delegation to stop the DARK act. We’ll need YOUR help to do that! (stay tuned…)

Read more about the day from our friends at the Organic Consumers Association.  Watch the Hearing and hear the tired talking points of the opposition. The outcomes of these proceedings will affect all Americans.  Please see our previous action alert to voice your concerns: “Americans have a Right to Know when GMOs are in our food. Protect states’ rights and stop the DARK act!”
Note: although H.4432 will not likely go anywhere this session, we can be sure the DARK act will return in a new form in the new Congress. We must remain vigilant!
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Action Alert: Stop the federal ban on GMO labeling!

Please call TODAY: America needs YOU to stop the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. House bill HR 4432, written by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Big Food and presented in Congress by Koch-brothers minion Mike  Pompeo, would effectively outlaw mandatory GMO labeling. The U.S. House of Representatives will be holding hearings on the DARK Act on December 10th, and we want to you let our elected officials know that they have our support in fighting for a consumer’s right to know.

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Call your elected officials and tell them: 


Right now the House of Representatives is debating HR.4432, a bill that would eliminate states’ rights to label genetically engineered foods. I ask you do everything in your power to make sure that this bill is not passed, nor any future version of it. Please protect our ability to make informed decisions about the food we eat and feed our families.”

Members of MA Right to Know GMOs will be attending a protest in DC being organized by the Organic Consumers Association on December 10th. Will you help magnify our message by calling your elected officials?

☏ Call, Email, Fax and Visit Your Reps 

Tell them to Vote NO on HR4432!

Find your representatives by Zip Code:
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

☏ Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or Toll Free (877) 762-8762

(you can also call direct at their office number when you look them up at the above link)

OR click here to send a quick message to your Representative via a webform:

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13738

Read the bill and see who the co-sponsors are (Thankfully none are from Mass!) 
Source: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr4432

The DARK Act would wipe out Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law, and prohibit any mandatory labeling of GMO foods in the US. All of our efforts here in Massachusetts and across the region could be rendered obsolete! We need your help to stop the DARK Act and protect our right to know what we’re eating.

Note: the real name of bill HR.4432 is “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.” But we think DARK is more appropriate, don’t you?


Thank you for taking action!

 

Elections 2014: Candidates in support of #GMO labeling win at the ballot

With the help of more than 5000 members and dozens of local leaders across the state, MA Right to Know GMOs has continued to raise the visibility of the GMO labeling issue. During the the run-up to the 2014 elections, nearly half of the candidates for contested seats in the Massachusetts State Legislature expressed their support for our right to know what we’re eating. At the end of the day, 73% of the victorious candidates had endorsed mandatory GMO labeling in Massachusetts. (full list below. Note: two seats are still being recounted.).

THANK YOU to everyone who contacted the candidates, posted on social media, volunteered with the campaigns of our supporters, and most importantly: voted! Thanks to you, we successfully made GMO labeling a campaign issue, and now we can continue to build momentum for the coming session.

Re: social media, take a look at the below collection of twitter posts made by candidates in support of GMO labeling!

During the previous legislative session (2013-14), we built a serious buzz about GMO labeling in the State House. Together, we generated more than 40,000 petition signatures, emails and phone calls demanding transparency in food labeling. While the Massachusetts GMO labeling bill gained a majority of support (146/200 legislators) in 2014, our representatives didn’t vote on it before the session ended on July 31st.

We’re going to be picking up with even greater momentum with the new legislative session begins in January. Even though we lost some supporters to retirement and a couple were defeated, we’ll be starting the new year with the same level of support, thanks to the following newcomers. We are eager to meet our newest allies in the State House!

Here’s a list of the incoming legislators who have already endorsed GMO labeling:

Michelle DuBois (D), Representative-Elect, 10th Plymouth

Eric Lesser (D), Senator-Elect, 1st Hampden & Hampshire District

Joseph McKenna (R), Representative-Elect, 18th Worcester

Rady Mom (D), Representative-Elect, 11th Middlesex

David Muradian (R), Representative-Elect, 9th Worcester

Steven Ultrino (D), Representative-Elect, 33rd Middlesex

Timothy Whelan (R), Representative-Elect, 1st Barnstable

Note: A recount is being sought for the 1st District seat, which might end up being won by another GMO labeling supporter, Ed Cameron.

Below is a listing of all the candidates, who supported GMO labeling, and who won.

 

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Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement Could Undermine GMO Labeling

MA Right to Know GMOs joined with Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and seventy other consumer, farm and food groups, and businesses on a letter urging the Obama Administration not to restrict efforts to label genetically engineered foods in the ongoing and secret U.S.-EU trade talks.

Click here to read that letter.

Read more about our shared concerns is this great write-up from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Allance (FARFA):

Through negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) with the European Union, the U.S. Trade Representative seeks to establish common regulations covering consumer protections, and has targeted the European Union’s regulations of genetically engineered foods, which includes consumer labeling. U.S. and EU agribusiness firms have been open about their desire to eliminate GMO labeling laws under TAFTA—including the rising number of U.S. states moving to require GMO labeling.

FARFA and the other groups object to the U.S. trade negotiators placing the interests of agribusiness over the interests of consumers, and creating “rights” for corporations that would trump democratically enacted laws.

The groups expressed concerns that a TAFTA chapter called “technical barriers to trade” would limit governments’ ability to maintain or establish product labels for consumers. This year, Vermont was the first state to pass required GMO labeling without any restrictions. Maine and Connecticut passed GMO labeling laws last year contingent on neighboring states also passing GMO labeling laws. More than 20 states are also considering laws, including major GMO labeling initiatives on the ballot in Colorado and Oregon this fall.

The push to “harmonize” standards in TAFTA would effectively undermine these grassroots, citizen-led efforts.

The Obama Administration has prioritized corporate rights within the negotiations, including the highly controversial Investor-State provision, which grants corporations the right to use secret tribunals to challenge state, local or national laws they view as potentially limiting to expected future profits. Past investor-state cases have targeted regulations on toxic waste, land use rules and water and timber policies. The Grocery Manufacturers Association is already suing the state of Vermont under U.S. law to challenge GMO labeling. TAFTA rules would provide the GMA with another legal tool to attack U.S. laws.

The negotiating text for TAFTA remains secret, with only parts of drafts being leaked to the public. The groups called on the U.S. and EU to make the negotiating text public—and pledged to oppose any deal that undermines consumer’s right to know what is in the food they purchase and feed their families.

 

9/11/14: USDA to host “Virtual Public Comment Meeting” on Monsanto dicamba-resistant GMOs. What are the real risks?

The glyphosate (RoundUp) herbicide has been so overused that it’s not working well anymore. Dicamba would be the next step on the chemical treadmill, keeping our farmers dependent on hazardous, fossil-fuel-based chemicals. If approved, millions more pounds of this chemical will be sprayed, polluting our food, water, and air and threatening the livelihood of some farmers.

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The USDA is accepting public comments until Sept. 25 and hosting a “Virtual Public Comment Meeting” on Sept. 11 th from 5-8 pm EDT. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/APHISVirtualMeetings/

What are the risks?

An assessment from Ohio State University highlights the following concerns (full report, here http://bit.ly/VQBJOG):

*”huge concern” from specialty crop farmers that spray drift from increasing applications of dicambia and roundup will make it impossible to grow their highly sensitive fruits, vegetables and ornamentals

*concerns over increased licensing fees and other increased expenses

*consumer and environmental health and rural community well-being concerns

*growing awareness and resistance to GMOs, impacts on manufacturers products (!)

*increased use of herbicides

As the Center for Food Safety highlights in the above petition:

“Penn State ecologist David Mortensen predicts that herbicide use on soy could increase 70% if the new 2,4-D and dicamba-tolerant soybeans are adopted. Inevitably new ‘superweeds’ will develop in response to the new biotech crops, and the chemical arms race with weeds will continue. This means more pesticidal pollution, environmental damage, higher production costs, and of course, increasing profits for firms like Monsanto that sell both GE seed and pesticides.”

Sign the petition: http://bit.ly/1qh2kPR
Attend the virtual meeting Sept 11th, 5-8 PM EDT
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/APHISVirtualMeetings/

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 MoveOn.org. “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 www.marighttoknow.com.

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Rolling Reminder to Label GMOs: Inside the State House

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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.

 

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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:

https://www.facebook.com/events/527860700646910/

Please email labelGMOsMA@gmail.com if you can attend to receive instructions.

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UPDATES:

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!

 

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

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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:

http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

(phone calls and personalized emails are preferred).

See if they’re a listed supporter, here: marighttoknow.org/endorsements

(Or click here to send them a message within seconds: http://bit.ly/1mHM8IB)

 

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 MArighttoknow.org for full details.

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

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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:
http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
(phone calls and personalized emails are preferred).
See if they’re a listed supporter, here: marighttoknow.org/endorsements

(Or click here to send them a message within seconds: http://bit.ly/1mHM8IB)

*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 marighttoknow.org 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.
marighttoknow.com/spread-the-word

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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