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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2015
Majority of State Legislators Support GMO Food Labeling
154 Representatives and Senators Co-sponsor legislation
Boston, MA Today, a coalition of consumer, community, farming and public health organizations working to pass a GMO food labeling law announced that a strong majority of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate have signed on as co-sponsors of GMO food labeling legislation. In total, 154 out of 200 Massachusetts legislators including 125 from the House of Representatives and 29 from the Senate have signed on as co-sponsors to the GMO labeling bill.
Foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients are commonly known as GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The bill, currently known as House Docket 369 – 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. Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have already passed GMO labeling laws.
“We are extremely lucky to have so many incredible legislators supporting this effort here in Massachusetts,” said Martin Dagoberto, of MA Right to Know GMOs. “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.”
“Over the last two years, we have increased the number of co-sponsors on GMO labeling legislation more than sevenfold,” said Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst). “This issue resonates with everyone because it is a reasonable request about a basic right we all should have: tell us what is in our food. I truly believe that this will be our year to pass this bill.”
“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 of 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.”
“People have the right to know and understand the products that are contained within our food in order to make informed and healthy decisions to meet their dietary needs,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).
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.
“Farmers are getting more and more questions about GMOs — people are really upset about not knowing if they are in their food. We are grateful that so many legislators see the importance of clearly labeling them. That will help our businesses, our customers, and the local farm economy.” — Jack Kittredge, certified organic farmer and policy director, NOFA/Mass (Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.) NOFA/Mass has 1200 members in the Commonwealth and in one of 7 state NOFA chapters in the northeast.
“Support for GMO labeling legislation is growing by the day,” said Representative Todd Smola (R-Palmer). “Massachusetts can be a leading state on GMO labeling if we are willing to take a step in the right direction. This legislation is about promoting public health, but it is also about transparency.”
“Constituents from every community I represent have reached out to me and expressed their support for having GMO products clearly labeled,” said Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem). “I’m happy to join this growing effort designed to increase the amount of information provided to Massachusetts consumers.”
“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 ensure that Massachusetts consumers are well informed.”
The overwhelming number of co-sponsors is due in part to hard work and commitment from the GMO legislative leadership team from both the House and Senate. The team includes RepresentativesStory (Amherst), Smola (Palmer), M.Moran (Boston), Rushing (Boston), Peake (Provincetown), DiNatale (Fitchburg), Dykema (Holliston), Farley-Bouvier (Pittsfield), Madden (Nantucket), Mannal (Barnstable), Decker (Cambridge), Kocot (Northampton), Keefe (Worcester), Cariddi (North Adams), Boldyga (Southwick), Fox (Boston) and Senators Lovely (Salem), Tarr (Gloucester), Wolf (Harwich), Eldridge (Acton), O’Connor Ives (Newburyport).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2014
Carrie Rankin, 617.485.4544, rankin[at]libertysquaregroup.com
Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG, 617.747.4319, dcummings[at]masspirg.org
Massachusetts Nurses Association Endorses GMO Food Labeling
Boston, MA – Today, a statewide coalition of advocates in support of labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) announced that the Massachusetts Nurses Association (ANA) has endorsed H. 3996, a GMO labeling bill.
The bill is currently in the House Committee on Ways & Means. The legislation has a majority of support in both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the Massachusetts Nurses Association,” said Martin Dagoberto, campaign coordinator for MA Right to Know GMOs. “Right now we have an opportunity to join with Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont in this regional tipping point toward transparency in food labeling. It’s critical to have members of the health community on board to help us urge the Massachusetts House and Senate to do the right thing and pass a GMO labeling bill this session.”
The MNA is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses and health professionals in the state, representing more than 23,000 members. It joins a 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.
“The Massachusetts Nurses Association stands in support of the GMO labeling bill, H.3996,” said Christine Pontus, MS, RN, COHN-S/CCM, Associate Director Health & Safety at Massachusetts Nurses Association. “Nurses are educated in nutrition and have an understanding of health, wellness, and the necessary components of nutrition found in natural healthy food to support individuals through a life time.”
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 GMO crops.
For more information about the GMO labeling coalition visit www.marightoknow.com.
March 18, 2014
For Immediate Release
Carrie Rankin, 617.485.4544, rankin[at]libertysquaregroup.com
Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG, 617-747-4319, dcummings[at]masspirg.org
GMO Labeling Bill Passes MA Legislative Joint Committee
Boston, MA — The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, chaired by Senator Marc Pacheco (Taunton) and Representative Anne Gobi (Spencer), yesterday passed out of committee H.813, a GMO labeling bill. If signed into law, the bill would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically modified or engineered ingredients (GMOs) would be clearly labeled.
Massachusetts joins a growing number of northeast states working to label foods
containing GMOs. Maine and Connecticut have already passed legislation. New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont are actively pursuing
“There is incredible momentum in the northeast to label genetically engineered foods,”
said Martin Dagoberto, Campaign Coordinator at MA Right to Know GMOs. “I’m thrilled to see the Massachusetts legislature taking on this important initiative and fighting to make Massachusetts one of the first states to label GMOs. This is a significant step forward in the fight for a transparent food supply.”
According to a poll conducted by The New York Times, 93 percent of Americans support labeling foods containing genetically modified or engineered ingredients.
“The bottom line is that consumers overwhelmingly want to know what is in the food
they eat,” said Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director for MASSPIRG. “GMO
labeling is a simple common sense way to allow consumers to make informed choices.”
“Farmers and consumers alike believe we have a right to know what is in our food,” said Jack Kittredge, Policy Director at Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic
Farming Association. “I hope the legislature will continue to keep moving this along until we join Connecticut and Maine with a strong labeling law to be signed by the Governor.”
“MoveOn members have been very concerned and active on GMO labeling here in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Pat Fiero, Lead Regional Organizer, N.E.,
MoveOn.org. “ We are pleased the legislature heard and listened to the thousands of requests from the public for GMO labeling.”This year, five GMO labeling bills have been filed by a bipartisan group of legislators including Representatives Ellen Story (Amherst), Todd Smola (Palmer), Michael Moran (Brighton) Stephen DiNatale (Fitchburg).
For more information, visit MA Right to Know GMOs at marighttoknow.org or find us on Facebook.
February 17, 2014
Jamaica Plain (February 16, 2014) – More than sixty local residents gathered with state GMO labeling campaign advocates on Sunday night at Spontaneous Celebrations in JP to share concerns over genetically engineered foods and to discuss the need for mandatory GMO labeling. GMO labeling has become a hot-button issue across the nation in recent months, with more than half of the states considering labeling legislation, including Massachusetts. Local community groups hosted a film screening and discussion on GMOs and are encouraging legislators to take action on a proposed law before a March 19th committee deadline.
“We have a right to know what we’re feeding our families, and what we’re supporting with our food purchases. People need to know that there are serious health risks associated with GMO foods,” says Martin Dagoberto, an advocate with the group called Massachusetts Right to Know GMOs. “People across the state are calling for GMOs to be labeled, and right now our elected officials have the opportunity to show us they’re listening,” Dagoberto added.
Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced several bills related to GMO labeling, but as the legislative deadline approaches, advocates are concerned that the state will miss an opportunity to be part of a national legislative movement. In 2013, Connecticut and Maine both passed GMO labeling laws that rely on neighboring states to enact similar laws before they go into effect. Vermont’s house passed a GMO labeling bill by a lopsided margin, and their senate is expected to vote soon. Organizers of the labeling efforts say that state-level action is setting the standard for meaningful GMO labeling and will force the federal government to take action as it did with other historic laws like women’s right to vote.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when GMOs are seen as the norm and we have to label organic,” says Op, a Roxbury resident who attended the event with his family. “Not everyone has access to organic food, but a GMO label will help everyone know what’s in their food and decide what they’re going to give their kids,” he added, “it helps get the conversation going about how food is medicine, and how food is related to sickness.”
The event featured the award-winning documentary “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of our Lives,” produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology, after which attendees discussed what they can do to take action to support mandatory GMO labeling efforts and avoid GMOs in their diet. Attendees shared educational resources and made plans to contact their local elected officials ahead of the approaching March 19th legislative deadline.
Opponents of GMO labeling include the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an industry group currently under investigation by the Washington State Attorney General’s office for violating campaign finance laws during the recent ballot initiative on GMO labeling. The organization maintains that GMOs have been proven safe, and that consumers don’t need to know if they’re eating genetically engineered foods.
Delphine, a JP resident who attended the event, says she suffered from a digestive disorder called “leaky gut syndrome” until after she eliminated GMO soy from her diet. “It takes a lot of time figuring out if you’re eating genetically engineered foods, but with GMO labeling people will be better able to make informed choices about what they’re eating, ” she said.
Nearly 300 food scientists and experts, including a developer of the first commercial GMO crop, have signed on to a recent international statement citing serious safety concerns with GMO foods. “While the science is still out on whether or not they’re safe, people want to opt out of the GMO food experiment,” Dagoberto added, “Whether or not our local elected officials will hear our voices and take some initiative to pass GMO labeling, is yet to be seen.”
Community members were joined by advocates from groups pushing for GMO labeling, including Jack Kittredge, Policy Director at the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (MA) and Ed Stockman, 4th generation organic farmer, biologist, and co-founder of MA Right to Know GMOs. Local organic food delivery companies, Boston Organics, and Life Force Juice sponsored the event, along with local organizations including JP New Economy Transition and the Jamaica Plain Forum.
January 24, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orange, MA (January 24, 2014) – Local business leader Dean Cycon of Dean’s Beans in Orange has joined the fight to label GMOs in Massachusetts. As chemical manufacturers and junk food companies across the country spend millions opposing efforts to require labels for genetically engineered foods, small businesses closer to home are getting behind the move toward transparency and tracking of GMO crops.
“A business is the bridge between the producer and the consumer for flow of information, and we need to be honest and transparent,” says Cycon, recipient of the 2013 Oslo Business for Peace Award for his fair trade organic coffee business. “Without the information provided by GMO labeling, non-GMO agriculture is directly threatened and consumers are unable to determine what kind of food systems they want to support.”
In May of 2013, contamination of wheat crops in Oregon with an experimental GMO strain disrupted exports to Korea and Japan, which have banned GMO wheat. In Hawai’i, growers of the prized Kona coffee fear that nearby trials of GMO-joe may threaten their ability to market their specialty product. GMO coffee being tested by the University of Hawai’i is engineered so as to allow for mechanical harvesting, diminishing labor needs and increasing profits for large plantations. “It will also put more coffee on an already glutted market, decreasing prices and directly affecting the welfare of tens of millions of small coffee farmers already struggling with record low prices, and whose crops may become contaminated by pollen from the Frankenbeans, ” said Cycon.
Without GMO labeling and information about the supply chain, advocates say that consumers are unable to choose if they will support increased reliance on GMO seeds and the potentially harmful chemicals that go with them. “In order to have a free market, consumers need transparency and information, especially about a practice as controversial as GMO agriculture,” adds Gary Schaefer, co-owner of Bart’s Homemade Ice Cream. The Greenfield based ice cream company has taken steps to meet rising consumer demand for non-GMO ice cream, but without labeling and segregation of GMO feed grain, companies like his are struggling to source milk from cows not fed GMOs. Similarly, U.S. food manufacturers across the country are scrambling to meet the increase in consumer demand for non-GMO ingredients noted in recent months.
Martin Dagoberto, a leading advocate for GMO labeling in MA, points to some of the benefits of GMO labeling for local agriculture, saying that “GMO labeling will distinguish locally grown crops, which are already primarily non-GMO, from imported industrial agricultural products. Increased demand will create additional markets for Massachusetts farms, including those which do not meet rigid organic standards.”
Massachusetts legislators have until a March 19th deadline to take action on proposed legislation, otherwise another bill won’t be considered until the 2015-16 session. Legislation passed in Maine and Connecticut requires neighboring states to pass similar legislation before they take effect. All remaining New England states have pending legislation.
Cycon has pledged seven thousand dollars to support the grassroots campaign to label GMOs in Massachusetts, and is challenging other local businesses to match his support for what he describes as “common sense legislation.” “There is no good reason not to label GMOs,” Cycon says, “and we have a chance here to impact a national trend which can benefit small businesses and strengthen local economies.”