MA Coalition for GMO Labeling Applauds Massachusetts House Delegation for Voting No on DARK Act

MA_applauds

To send a THANK you to our members of Congress who voted NO and to encourage our Senators to do the same, please click here.

Boston, MA ­– Today, a coalition of consumer, community, farming and public health organizations working to pass a GMO food labeling law, thanked the Massachusetts congressional delegation for voting against HR1599, known as the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act. The DARK Act passed the House 275-150, but eight of nine Massachusetts House members voted no. Representative Bill Keating (D-MA) did not vote on the bill.

“We are very grateful to the members of the Massachusetts delegation that voted against this blatant attempt by the food manufacturers and agro-chemical industry to squash states’ rights and consumers right to know,” said Martin Dagoberto, of MA Right to Know GMOs. “We hope that Senators Warren and Markey will stand with the House delegation and help defeat this awful legislation in the U.S. Senate.”

The DARK Act pre-empts state and local control over genetically engineered foods, often referred to as genetically modified organisms or GMOs, without putting a real system in place. Instead, the DARK Act would establish a federal policy of voluntary labeling for GMOs, which will fail to help consumers. The bill also creates a federal government bureaucracy for non-GMO labeling, even though there is already a private system that’s working well, and prevents state and local governments from implementing any sort of oversight of GMO crops, even when the federal government has declined to regulate them.

To date, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have passed labeling laws, and many other states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island are considering their own bills. Supporters of the DARK Act claim that federal preemption is needed because food manufacturers would have trouble complying with a patchwork of state laws. But every state law on GMO labeling that has been adopted, and the overwhelming majority of the bills that have been proposed in recent years, share the same core elements, including the definitions of key terms, what level of GMO ingredients trigger the labeling requirement, and the exemptions. No patchwork currently exists, nor is there likely to be one.

“I am disappointed to see this proposal advance on the federal level,” said State Representative Todd M. Smola. “States have every right to demand the labeling of GMO’s on products without federal intervention. GMO labeling is an open and transparent proposal that will provide consumers with information so that they can be well informed to make decisions about the products they buy. All we are looking to do is equip people with the facts. It will be up to them as to what they do with that information.”

“I support the growing movement in Massachusetts to consider GMO labeling and believe that each state should have the opportunity to debate the merits of this issue and enact laws to make sure consumers can make informed decisions about the food products they buy,” said State Senator Joan Lovely.

“Massachusetts is full of savvy consumers who are asking to know about the products they use and the food they eat. We demand high standards,” said State Representative Ellen Story. “Every mother deserves to know what her baby is eating. Every farmer deserves to know what crops are growing in her fields. Every person has a right to observe the religious dietary restrictions of her choice. Labeling makes good on those needs. I cannot believe that in the 21st century, Congress could seriously be considering hiding this information from us.”

The Massachusetts bill, H. 3242 – An Act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act –would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled. The bill is sponsored by 154 of 200 legislators in Massachusetts, and will hopefully come up for a vote in 2015.

A full list of co-sponsors can be found at http://marighttoknow.org/endorsements. For more information on the coalition visit: http://www.marighttoknow.org or Facebook.

 

MA Coalition for GMO Labeling and legislative champions call on Massachusetts Congressional delegation to vote against DARK Act

Proposed federal law would undercut state efforts to address GMO labeling

DARK_PR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2015

Contact: Conor Yunits, 617.695.0369conor@libertysquaregroup.com

Boston, MA ­-  Today, a coalition of consumer, community, farming and public health organizations working to pass a GMO food labeling law, as well as their legislative champions in the Massachusetts State House, called on the Massachusetts congressional delegation to vote against HR1599, known as the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act. The DARK Act was advanced by the House Agricultural Committee last week, and could emerge for a vote in the full House of Representatives as early as tomorrow, Thursday, July 23.

The DARK Act would improperly pre-empt state and local control over genetically engineered foods, often referred to as genetically modified organisms or GMOs. In place of state laws, the DARK Act would establish a federal policy of voluntary labeling for GMOs, which will fail to help consumers.  The bill also creates a federal government bureaucracy for non-GMO labeling, even though there is already a private system that’s working well, and prevents state and local governments from implementing any sort of oversight of GMO crops, even when the federal government has declined to regulate them.

“Passage of this law would be a tremendous blow to consumer information and transparency,” said Martin Dagoberto of MA Right to Know GMOs. “This is a law driven by corporate interests who are trying to stymie the growing movement of citizens to know more about their food. In addition, given that the GMO labeling movement has only had success in New England to this point, this bill feels like a direct attack by Congress on the people of New England, and our Congressional delegation should vote against it.”

To date, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have passed labeling laws, and many other states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are considering their own bills. Supporters of the DARK Act claim that federal preemption is needed because food manufacturers would have trouble complying with a patchwork of state laws. But every state law on GMO labeling that has been adopted, and the overwhelming majority of the bills that have been proposed in recent years, share the same core elements, including the definitions of key terms, what level of GMO ingredients trigger the labeling requirement, and the exemptions. No patchwork currently exists, nor is there likely to be one.

“I am disappointed to see this proposal advance on the federal level,” said State Representative Todd M. Smola (R-Warren). “States have every right to demand the labeling of GMO’s on products without federal intervention. GMO labeling is an open and transparent proposal that will provide consumers with information so that they can be well informed to make decisions about the products they buy. All we are looking to do is equip people with the facts. It will be up to them as to what they do with that information.”

“I support the growing movement in Massachusetts to consider GMO labeling and believe that each state should have the opportunity to debate the merits of this issue and enact laws to make sure consumers can make informed decisions about the food products they buy,” said State Senator Joan Lovely (D-Peabody).

“Massachusetts is full of savvy consumers who are asking to know about the products they use and the food they eat. We demand high standards,” said State Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst). “Every mother deserves to know what her baby is eating. Every farmer deserves to know what crops are growing her fields. Every person has a right to observe the religious dietary restrictions of her choice. Labeling makes good on those needs. I cannot believe that in the 21st century, Congress could seriously be considering hiding this information from us.”

The Massachusetts bill, H. 3242 - An Act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act –would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled. The bill is sponsored by 154 of 200 legislators in Massachusetts, and will hopefully come up for a vote in 2015.

A full list of co-sponsors can be found at http://marighttoknow.org/endorsements. For more information on the coalition visit: http://www.marighttoknow.org or Facebook.

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Massachusetts Stands for Transparency. Let’s keep it that way.

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On Friday, June 12 2015, the entire Massachusetts delegation of the House of Representatives voted against granting the President “Fast Track Authority” to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal. This is a major (but temporary) win!

The fight is far from over. Another vote on the Fast Track Authority could occur as early as Tuesday, June 16th. If passed, it’s a virtual rubber-stamp for trade deals that threaten the economy, environment, digital rights and public health at home and around the world. It would also undermine our efforts to label GMOs here in Massachusetts and across the country.

Thanks to your phone calls and emails, our representatives in Congress are listening to the people on this! But they need our continued support and encouragement. Our members of Congress need to know that we have their backs as they challenge President Obama and the influence of the most powerful transnational entities that are pushing for this Trojan horse of a trade deal.

Please take action by sending a message to your member of Congress within seconds: http://bit.ly/1LdR5UE

 

Week of Action for GMO Labeling

Each day of the week, starting Tuesday, May 26th (after Memorial Day), supporters will be invited to take action in different and engaging ways. Whether or not you’ve signed petitions, wrote emails or taken action in any way before, this is your chance to join with thousands all at once to send a strong message, together: Let’s label GMOs ASAP. Our collective voice is unstoppable.

 

WOA_announce_MA2015

Monsanto is the largest purveyor of GMO seeds and the biocides that go with them. They are also spending millions to keep us in the dark about what we’re eating. In the week following the March Against Monsanto (details for MA, RI), food activists across Massachusetts and Rhode Island are taking part in a Week of Action for GMO labeling. Right now, both states have the opportunity to stand with Connecticut, Maine and Vermont in a regional push for common sense transparency in food labeling. But only if people like you make their voices heard!

Both Massachusetts and Rhode Island state governments are considering GMO labeling bills which already have a majority of support in each of their legislative bodies.  We need all of our legislators to realize we’ve waited long enough to know what is in our food.  Our opposition is powerful and so far they have succeeded in stalling our bills. They may be powerful but we are bigger and can be louder. It’s time to turn up the volume, and that’s where you come in!

Here’s a preview of the week (click each for more details).

Tuesday, 5/26-  Call your legislators, Call your friends.

Make a phone call or email to thank legislative supporters and/or encourage them to get on board.

Then try to get 3 other people to call (or at least to send an email & sign up for future action alerts).

Wednesday, 5/27- Grow the Network

We are all in this together and there truly is power in numbers. Please visit or call your local farms, businesses, community groups, and organizations and ask them to join the GMO labeling campaign as a Network Partner.

Thursday, 5/28 – Movie Night!

Invite your friends and family (and even your state legislators!) over to watch GMO OMG or Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds (both are available for free or cheap online).  Help grow the food movement one small group at a time.

Friday, 5/29 – DC Day to “STOP THE DARK ACT.”

Our federal government is being pressured by Monsanto and pals to outlaw mandatory GMO labeling altogether. Let’s end the week with a bang and send a loud message to our members of Congress in DC.

 

Of course, people are encouraged to take action in any of these or other ways whenever they want. (We hope this gives you some ideas!) This coordinated week of action will help build momentum for June, an important month for both Massachusetts and Rhode Island before the summer.

Please share this action alert with your networks and be sure you check back at the websites and/or facebook pages for details each day during the Week of Action.

Massachusetts Week of Action page: marighttoknow.org/WOA2015
To sign up for MA advocate newsletter, please visit marighttoknow.org/contact
Facebook for MA: facebook.com/marighttoknowgmos

To sign up for RI advocate newsletter, please visit http://righttoknowri.org/
Facebook for RI: facebook.com/RighttoKnowRI

Thank you for joining with so many others to declare our right to chose what we eat and what we support with our food purchases.

 

3rd Annual March Against Monsanto – Everywhere, May 23rd

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Where will you BEE on May 23? Boston, Nantucket, New Bedford and Northampton join with over 400 cities worldwide for the 3rd annual March Against Monsanto. People everywhere want to reclaim control over their food, and for many, that starts with bringing attention to the largest obstacle to food democracy.

As a chemical giant, Monsanto brought us such wonders as PCBs and Agent Orange and told us there was nothing to worry about… Now, as a “life sciences” company, they are the largest purveyor of GMO seeds (and the chemicals that go with them). They are spending countless millions to corrupt our political process and to keep us in the dark about what we’re eating. It’s time to shed some light.
Join with food justice and sovereignty advocates across Massachusetts at one of 4 family-friendly events:
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Boston: Rally for World Food Justice
“FOOD JUSTICE can only happen with ECONOMIC, RACIAL and CLIMATE JUSTICE! Come help us VISION a new FUTURE for FOOD. Last year more than 1000 gathered in solidarity. This year will feature teach-ins from community leaders, public speakers from across these movements, as well as local community musicians, artists, and vendors.”
March 1-2pm to Copley Square (route TBA)
Rally 2-4pm at Copley Square
Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/797217667032767/
Video from MAM Boston 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUzni6gocCU

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Nantucket: March Against Monsanto Education Week
A whole week (5/16-5/23) of educational events for the community!
Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1030297793665867/
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New Bedford: March Against Monsanto
A peaceful, family/pet friendly event at Buttonwood Park!
10:30a- 1p at Buttonwood Park
Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1635857926648468/
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Northampton: March Against Monsanto
Rally on the steps of City Hall!
11a – 1p
Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1405591119764123/
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Special thanks to all the wonderful organizers who are stepping up to make these events happen. This is a truly global movement!
To find the details for hundreds of other events worldwide, please visit:  www.march-against-monsanto.com

‪#‎MAM‬
‪#‎MAMBOSTON‬
‪#‎MAMNB2015‬

And then: A Week of Action for GMO Labeling!

Each day of the week, starting Tuesday, May 26th (after Memorial Day), supporters will be invited to take action in different and engaging ways to support GMO labeling. Whether or not you’ve signed petitions, wrote emails or taken action in any way before, this is your chance to join with thousands all at once to send a strong message, together: Let’s label GMOs ASAP. Our collective voice is unstoppable.

more info at marighttoknow.org/WOA2015

 

MA Coalition for GMO labeling cheers Vermont court decision

VTruling

April 28, 2015
Boston, MA

Today, a coalition of consumer, community, farming and public health organizations working to pass a GMO food labeling law cheered a decision by the United States District Court for the District of Vermont upholding the nation’s first GMO labeling law.

“This is an incredible day for American consumers,” said Martin Dagoberto, of MA Right to Know GMOs. “The court ruled that it’s in the general interest of state governments to require disclosure and labeling of genetically modified ingredients. We couldn’t agree more, and we believe this will be a turning point in the right to know movement.”

“The courts have agreed with our basic message, which is that consumers deserve transparency around something as fundamental as the food they eat and feed their families,” said Deirdre Cummings of MASSPIRG. “Now that the public interest of the right to know has been affirmed, it’s time for Massachusetts to pass its own GMO labeling law and give consumers the opportunity to make informed decisions.”

The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont found that there is compelling interest to provide consumers the ability to make informed choice based on health, environmental or religious concerns, and struck down an attempt by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to delay implementation of the law. The Vermont law is scheduled to take effect in July 2016.

Of particular interest in the ruling was the argument from Judge Christine Reiss that, “Plaintiffs lose both traction and credibility in their further contention that any State interest in “catering to personal, political, and religious views that reject science is neither legitimate nor governmental” and that, because the State allegedly “has no monetary skin in the game, there is not even a financial interest in the enforcement of [Act 120].” The safety of food products, the protection of the environment, and the accommodation of religious beliefs and practices are all quintessential governmental interests, as is the State’s desire “to promote informed consumer decision-making.”

Foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients are commonly known as GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Vermont passed the nation’s first GMO labeling law in May 2014 and was immediately sued by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. This is the first ruling on GMO labeling by the U.S. court system. Maine and Connecticut have also passed labeling laws, and many other states, including Massachusetts, are considering their own bills.

The Massachusetts bill, H. 3242 - An Act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act –would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled. The bill is sponsored by 154 of 200 legislators in Massachusetts, and will hopefully come up for a vote in 2015.

A full list of co-sponsors can be found at http://marighttoknow.org/endorsements.  For more information on the coalition visit http://www.marighttoknow.org or Facebook.

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Corporate “personhood” and GMO Labeling

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The following was submitted as testimony on behalf of MA Right to Know GMOs, in support of H933 – “Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution to declare that corporations are not people, money is not speech”

More and more people (human beings) are increasingly concerned that through the invented powers of corporate “personhood” and “free speech,” certain financial interests have secured undue influence over our lives. A small number of people and corporate “people” are now able to buy the loudest voices heard in our federal government, including the regulation of food safety and food labeling.

Massachusetts Right to Know GMOs is a statewide network of more than 20,000 parents, farmers and consumer advocates demanding mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food ingredients, a measure supported by more than ¾ of the Massachusetts legislature. However, the world’s largest chemical companies have built a business model which relies on the public (and public health officials) not knowing if/when GMOs are consumed. The chemical companies maintain that it is their constitutional right, as corporations, not to tell us if we’re eating ingredients produced through genetic engineering. According to Reuters, opponents of mandatory GMO labeling spent more than $27 Million lobbying against labeling transparency in the first half of 2014. One can safely assume that significant amounts are being spent to influence regulation in other ways.

Our democratic process has been compromised by the unmitigated infiltration of corporate dollars. The lack of GMO labeling is but one pressing example. We, at MA Right to Know, applaud the leadership of Representative David Rogers, Representative Paul Mark and the other Massachusetts legislators protecting the integrity of our democratic process.

H933, to amend the constitution of Massachusetts, is one important step in the right direction.

Let us, as a Commonwealth, make it clear: “Corporations are not people. Money is not speech.”

For more info about this important campaign, please visit the website of our allies at www.PassMassAmendment.org

GMO Herbicide a “Probable Carcinogen,” WHO says

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently determined that the herbicide most commonly used on GMO crops is a probable human carcinogen.

Herbicide-resistant (GMO) crop technology has led to a 527 million pound increase in herbicide use in the United States between 1996 and 2011.

Subsequently, the EPA has repeatedly increased “tolerable” limits for glyphosate residues in food. The compound has been found in rainwater and human breast milk.

The New York Times Reports:

Health Agency Says Widely Used Herbicide Likely Carcinogenic

Herbicide, glyphosate, is sold by Monsanto under Roundup brand
By JACOB BUNGE
March 20, 2015 5:05 p.m. ET

Glyphosate, a herbicide widely marketed by Monsanto Co. and other companies, likely has the potential to cause cancer in humans, a World Health Organization agency said Friday.

The determination, published by researchers for the International Agency for Research on Cancer in a U.K. medical journal, is likely to fuel further debate over the safety of the heavily used agricultural chemical, which Monsanto sells under the Roundup brand.

Consumer and environmental groups have long warned of health problems that they say could arise from applying the weedkiller on farms, while agricultural companies have touted the product’s safety and environmental impact as preferable to other, harsher chemicals. Officials at Monsanto and agricultural-chemical trade groups contested Friday’s finding, saying decades of research had proved glyphosate’s safety.

Glyphosate is the most-used herbicide in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Farmers have ramped up its use over the past two decades with the advent of genetically modified crops, including corn and soybeans, which can withstand sprayings of the chemical. Herbicide-tolerant biotech plants were grown on 94% of U.S. soybean fields and 89% of U.S. corn fields last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In classifying glyphosate as potentially cancer-causing, the international research agency cited studies of occupational exposure to glyphosate in the U.S., Canada and Sweden, which they wrote showed “increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma” along with a positive trend for some ailments in mice in separate studies. Though the researchers cited “limited evidence” that glyphosate was a carcinogen for humans, they classified it as probably carcinogenic to them, according to the article.

Read the full article, here.

Transparency Tour: Martha’s Vineyard

As part of our ongoing Transparency Tour, we were so grateful to be invited to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend. Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard hosted a well-attended ”Farmer’s Brunch.” They have helped mobilize thousands of Islanders in support local agriculture and GMO labeling.

Here’s some great local coverage of the brunch, the title of this image: “Slow Food Wants Quick Action on GMO Labeling.”

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41 local farms are part of the Island Grown Initiative, which last year, together with SFMV, presented signatures from over 3000 Islanders in support of GMO labeling to state legislators.We’d like to thank them all for their exemplary efforts toward a more democratic food system! Together, we will label GMOs!