Boston, MA – Two-dozen Westport farms and businesses today called on Rep. Paul Schmid, Sen. Anne Gobi, and Speaker Robert DeLeo to advance H.3242 – An Act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act – out of committee. H. 3242 would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled.
Last fall, Rep. Schmid’s committee, the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, held a public hearing for H. 3242. During more than four hours of testimony, the Committee heard from dozens of supporters from all walks of life, with the only opposition coming from a panel organized by the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association. Despite the overwhelming support for the bill, the legislation has not yet been released from committee. Today, two-dozen businesses based in Rep. Schmid’s district signed a letter sent to Senate co-chair Schmid, along with Senate co-chair Gobi and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, calling for immediate action on the bill.
“Farmers will continue to grow what people want to eat. GMO labeling simply gives people the power of choice – ultimately,it’s better for consumers and better for our businesses.” – Healthy Futures Farm
“Key players in the Westport farming and business community want Chairman Schmid to know that he has their full support in moving ahead on GMO labeling,” said Martin Dagoberto, co-founder of Massachusetts Right to Know GMOs.
Prominent members of the Westport business community, including Buzzard’s Bay Brewery and Lee’s Supermarket, advocated on behalf of a consumer’s basic right to transparency throughout the food industry. Local supporters also include Gooseberry Natural Foods, Gray’s Daily Grind, Partner’s Village Store, Village Pizza and Westport Rivers Vineyard. In the letter, they write that mandatory GMO labeling is both an issue of consumer rights and economic justice, citing the limited pool of people who have the means to regularly buy organic produce and research the contents of their food.
“It is the authority of the consumer to make informed choices that is at stake here,” said Bill Braun of Ivory Silo Farm and Seed Project in Westport. “If the industry truly believes that GMOs are the only way to feed the world, one would imagine that they would have no problem telling people. Since they are already repackaging for dozens of other countries worldwide, it doesn’t seem a tall order to add a line to their labels in the U.S.”
“Farmers will continue to grow what people want to eat,” said Averyl Adrade at Healthy Futures Farm, also in Westport. “GMO labeling simply gives people the power of choice – ultimately, it’s better for consumers and better for our businesses.”
The strong showing of local support voiced in the letter mirrors the support at the State House; bipartisan support for the bill currently stands at 155 out of 200 state legislators, with more than 450 coalition partners supporting GMO labeling across the Commonwealth. As Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut have already all passed their own GMO labeling laws, Massachusetts is the next New England state poised to take action on the GMO labeling issue.
“The Massachusetts GMO labeling bill has a record amount of bipartisan support. Americans deserve the same right that people in 64 other countries enjoy,” said Dagoberto. “Right now Massachusetts has the opportunity to join with its neighbors and set a national standard for GMO labeling.”
The letter to the committee and the list of signers, as well as the full list of legislative and business endorsements can be found at marighttoknow.org/op