Elections 2014: Will your elected official support your right to know?

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Primer for Candidates
Question for Candidates
Full list of 146 Mass Legislators in support of GMO Labeling (2013-14 session)

It’s time to choose who will represent us in our state government. We need elected officials who will stand up for our right to know if we’re eating GMOs. We need your help to make that a reality.

During the 2013-14 legislative session, you helped build 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.

With elections around the corner, we want all candidates to know how important this issue is to their prospective constituents. We’re going to make sure they prioritize passing a strong GMO labeling bill in the 2015-16 session!

How to help

THIS is how democracy works. Your voice is SO important. Please consider our suggestions for how to make GMO labeling an important issue this election.

First off, make sure you know who your current state senator and representative are.

You can look them up, along with their contact info, here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

Look at the table below to see if they are facing a challenger this election, and see if they’re expressed support for GMO labeling.

Contact their office or campaign office and that of their opponent by clicking their websites/facebook/twitter.

  • If they are on board in support, you can thank them and let them know how important GMO labeling is to you.

  • If we don’t have any details on their support status, ask them where they stand on GMO labeling and let us know what you learn. Ask them to complete the MA Right to Know GMOs candidate survey.

(Please note, if you find any information that is currently missing in the table, help us update it by emailing  us at labelGMOsMA[at]gmail.com).

 

 

Other ways to help make GMO labeling a campaign issue

  • Tell your friends what you learn about the candidates. Encourage them to call their candidates, too!

  • Make sure you and your friends are registered to vote! (Deadline October 15, 2014)

  • Share the above image on social media and link to this page.

  • Volunteer to help with the campaign of your favorite candidate (and let them know your big issue).

  • Show up at debates and campaign events to ask about GMO labeling.

 

Democracy won’t work if we don’t work it. Let’s vote and label GMOs!

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

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!

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Use the interactive map of support: http://bit.ly/1orKVpy

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!

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See the full list of supporters, along with links to their facebook and twitter pages, here: http://marighttoknow.org/endorsements

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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: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/massachusetts-label-gmos

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: http://marighttoknow.org/write-a-letter-to-the-editor/

 

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.

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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: http://wwlp.com/2014/06/17/study-of-labeling-costs-ripped-by-lawmaker-as-scare-tactics/ )

 

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: http://bit.ly/1mHM8IB

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: marighttoknow.org/endorsements

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: marighttoknow.org/take-action

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

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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 http://www.marighttoknow.org or find us on Facebook.

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