BOSTON, June 4 -- The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group issued the following news release:
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, 142 Massachusetts legislators - including 119 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."
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.
"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."
"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 Senator Michael 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."