by Paula Marcoux.
How much control do YOU have over your basic food resources? When it comes to genetically modified organisms, not so much, it turns out, as long as the processed food industry and agribusiness can hold off the popular demand for labeling. Right now, unless you buy only certified organic food or grow your own from certified organic seed, you have no way of knowing the genetic status of what you put in your mouth.
Where do things stand here in Massachusetts? Five bills pertaining to the labeling of GMOs have been proposed up on Beacon Hill, by representatives Smola (H808), Story (H813 and H2093), Moran (H2093), and DiNatale (H1936). Cumulatively, these bills will put comprehensive GMO labeling requirements in place on both food and seeds in the Commonwealth.
Last June, the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and the Committee on Public Health held hearings for these bills, and that’s where they continue to sit. Favorable action would propel the bills into the legislative cycle. And guess what? YOU may submit written testimony to the committees regarding these pieces of legislation.
Our legislators are hearing from us. Contacted last week, Rep. Josh S. Cutler (6th Plymouth District: Pembroke • Duxbury • Hanson) confirmed that GMO labeling was “a growing concern” for his constituents. He continued, “I believe that consumers have the right to make well informed decisions about foods they are buying, and . . . to trust that what they are buying is the best option for their families. Consumers must have accurate information about the products they purchase.”
Important and under-reported fact: our actions on this issue will resound regionally, and perhaps nationally, since the passage of labeling bills in Massachusetts will contribute to a regional “domino effect”. Maine and Connecticut have passed legislation that will only take effect when a critical mass of northeastern states also show some spine. That’s right—these democratically-elected governing bodies are leery that the legal juggernaut of the processed food industry will pick them off like hapless antelopes if they stray outside the herd. So in standing with them Massachusetts can be a real game-changer.
Pick up the phone, or send an email — YOU can have an impact on the single most important food-security issue of our time.
To contact your state rep: