For the convenience of anyone wishing to cover this issue (thank you!), we have assembled some answers to common questions and resources for context and further research. Please direct any media inquiries to Martin Dagoberto, 508.361.0136, or email MAR2KGMOs[at]gmail.com.
GMO labeling legislation proposed in Massachusetts:
The Massachusetts legislature is considering 5 bills related to the labeling of genetically engineered products. Four of the bills are related to food labeling and one is related to labeling of GMO seeds. The five bills were referred to two legislative committees: Bills H.2093, H.2037 and H.1936 are being reviewed by the Joint Committee on Public Health and bills and the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture is reviewing bills H.808 and H.813. Advocates are encouraging legislators to produce an amended bill which reflects the most comprehensive language. Legislators have until a March 19th legislative deadline to vote a bill out of committee, otherwise advocates will have to attempt passing legislation in the 2015-16 legislative session.
A few reasons why people NEED to know if they’re eating GMOs:
GMOs have not been proven safe, and in fact, a growing body of peer- reviewed studies link the consumption of GMO foods to serious health risks, including allergies, infertility, and cancer.
The only safety test results reviewed by federal regulators are voluntarily submitted by the industry, itself. Industry-sponsored safety trials last 90 days or less, with no human clinical trials.
Worldwide, nearly 300 scientists and doctors, including the developer of the first commercialized GM crop, have signed on to a recent statement citing serious safety concerns with GMOs.
With childhood allergies skyrocketing, parents trying to keep their sensitive kids healthy need to know if the food their children are eating contains potential allergens such as GMOs.
Due to increasing use of the GMO-associated Roundup herbicide, the EPA has recently increased tolerable limits of the chemical residue in our food.
Mounting evidence links glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup) to a host of major health problems, including the types of human birth defects reported in GM soy-growing areas of South America.
The widespread use of GMO crops and associated chemicals is responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs,” which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons.
GMO crops easily contaminate non-GMO crops, threatening organic agriculture and the consumer’s ability to choose non-GMO foods. Unrestrained and unlabeled GMOs are a direct threat to traditional agriculture and, subsequently, to consumer freedom.
GMOs are on the market illegally, to begin with.
The FDA allows them into our food under the loophole category of “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), even though it knows they are not recognized as safe even by its own scientists let alone by a consensus in the scientific community.
GMO labeling won’t increase food costs.
Companies change their labeling all the time, and dozens of other countries have already introduced GMO labeling without increasing food costs. One simple line, “Produced with Genetic Engineering,” on the package would be of negligible cost to producers and wouldn’t cost consumers a dime. The only research showing a dramatic increase in food costs was funded by the industry opposed to labeling.
GMO labeling won’t hurt local retailers.
The entity responsible for labeling processed foods will be the entity who puts the label on: the manufacturer.
Voluntary or non-GMO labeling is not enough
We need mandatory GMO labeling in order to prevent contamination of non-GMO seeds and food ingredients. Further, the burden for testing and verification should not be on the producers of traditional crops, but rather on the manufacturers of these novel biotech products.
Statement of international scientists: No consensus on GMO safety
Nearly 300 scientists and food experts, including the developer of the first GM crop, have signed a joint statement from the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility saying that GM foods have not been proven safe and that existing research raises serious safety concerns. http://www.ensser.org
The FDA does not perform or require safety testing because of “substantial equivalence”, which has now been debunked
Lacking any scientific evidence to backup it’s claim, a 1992 policy statement of the Food and Drug Administration determined that all GMO crops, including those engineered to produce their own insecticides or withstand applications of chemical herbicides, are uniformly “safe and substantially equivalent.” The federal government, therefore, does not perform or require any safety testing of genetically engineered crops, and instead relies on voluntary assessments made by the industry.
“A new article, published in the Food Chemistry journal, provides scientific evidence that FDA’s claim that genetically engineered crops are “substantially equivalent” to traditional crops is false… Results showed that the organic soybeans had the healthiest nutritional profile and less saturated fat than the conventional and GMO soybeans…. In addition to being less nutritious, the GMO soybeans also contained significant levels of glyphosate (the herbicide used on Roundup Ready crops) and Aminomethyphosphonicacid (AMPA). AMPA, the chemical compound that glyphosate breaks down to, is even more toxic than glyphosate.”
Read more about this recent study (one of several to debunk the myth of “substantial equivalence,” here: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/gmo-soybeans-less-nutritious-glyphosate-levels/
Major organizations support GMO labeling and safety testing
The World Health Organization says that ongoing risk assessments are needed and that “GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.”
The American Medical Association favors pre-market safety testing, which the FDA does not require
The European Commission says that “labelling should include objective information to the effect that a food or feed consists of, contains or is produced from GMOs. Clear labelling, irrespective of the detectability of DNA or protein resulting from the genetic modification in the final product, meets the demands expressed in numerous surveys by a large majority of consumers, facilitates informed choice and precludes potential misleading of consumers as regards methods of manufacture or production.”
The American Nurses Association declared “the American Nurses Association supports the public’s right to know through support of appropriate food labeling, including country-of-origin and genetic modification and of nutritional information for food served in institutions, restaurants and fast food chains: and be it further”
The Union of Concerned Scientists supports “food labeling laws that require foods containing GE crops to be clearly identified as such, so that consumers can make informed decisions about buying GE products.”
About MA Right to Know GMOs
The statewide network is facilitated by an organizing collective based in Western Massachusetts. The steering committee includes Ed Stockman, an organic farmer and biologist, Martin Dagoberto, a community organizer and biologist, Pat Fiero, a community organizer and former state representative, and Grant Ingle, an organizational psychologist and organic gardener. Their efforts are supported by members of the local Hilltown Non-GMO Working Group, out of which this statewide effort emerged. Since August 2012 the network has grown include dozens of businesses, partnered organizations and grassroots leaders across the Commonwealth.
Current umber of members, roughly:
We are a network of more than 1000 safe food advocates from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Purpose/goal(s) of MA Right to Know:
MA Right to Know GMOs organizes to raise awareness of the health and environmental risks associated with genetically engineered crops and to support legislation requiring the labeling of genetically engineered ingredients.
Key accomplishments of this group:
MA Right to Know GMOs helped to organize two jam-packed public hearings for GMO labeling during the summer of 2013, and solicited expert testimony from dozens of business leaders, health experts and farmers. The group has also gathered more than 14 thousand signatures in support of GMO labeling. Since it’s founding in the summer of 2012, the group has facilitated over 80 educational events in communities across Massachusetts.