GMO Labeling in New York State? You Can Help!

by Stacie Orell

GMO Free NY (www.gmofreeny.net) is a NYC grassroots group allied with Food & Water Watch, NOFA-NY, Sierra Club AC, NRDC, NYPIRG, Green Party of NY, Consumers Union, Slow Food NYC, and others in the New York GE (Genetically Engineered) Food Labeling Campaign. We are advocating for the passage of New York State Legislation — (Assembly Bill A.3525 (Rosenthal)/ Senate Bill S.3835 (LaValle) — in 2014, legislation requiring the labeling of genetically engineered seed, seed stock, and food offered for retail sale in NYS.

Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods is not about being liberal or conservative, rich or poor. If you eat food, this issue affects you. Everyone has the right to know what's in their food and how it was produced. Yet the biotech and big food companies are fighting tooth and nail against giving us this right. To date they've spent $70 million to fight GMO labeling ballot initiatives in California and Washington. They've sent their lobbyists to Albany to convince our elected officials to continue to keep New Yorkers in the dark. And now the Grocery Manufacturers Association — the lobbying group for big food companies — is taking a different tack. They're trying to undermine all state GMO labeling efforts by pushing the FDA to set a toothless federal policy of voluntary GMO labeling and the condoned use of the word "natural" to describe foods containing GMO ingredients. There's nothing natural about GMOs, folks. In principle, Slow Food USA and Slow Food International are against GMOs because of their scientific unreliability; economic inefficiency; impact on environmental sustainability; unknown human health impacts; and threat to traditional food cultures and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

64 countries have GMO labeling laws yet here in the U.S. we're still begging the FDA to hear our concerns because our federal legislators and regulatory agencies are corrupted by undue corporate influence. Monsanto basically wrote the 1992 FDA policy statement based on the fallacy that GMOs are "substantially equivalent" to conventional foods and thus don't require mandatory safety testing or special labeling. That's right, GMOs are not tested for safety by our government before being approved for commercial sale! Any pre-market research is conducted or funded by the very companies that develop the GMOs, and guess what? All the studies conclude GMOs are safe for human consumption!

However, there is a growing body of independent research showing cause for concern about chronic consumption of GMOs. We have been unwitting guinea pigs of the biotech industry since GMOs were slipped into our food supply in 1996. But how to opt out of this experiment when we don't have labels to help inform our food purchasing decisions? How to track potential impacts on human health when the absence of labels prevents traceability, accountability, and liability?

It's time to take back control from the corporations. Last time I checked, Monsanto, DuPont, Kraft, PepsiCo, and Kellogg's were not constituents of NYS and thus have no business trying to dictate our food labeling policies! A 2013 New York Times poll showed 93% of us want genetically engineered foods labeled and it's time our elected officials got with the program.

The NYS 2104 Legislative Session has just begun and bill A.3525/S.3835 is under consideration. But we need your help to get these bills passed!

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION:

A. Find your Assemblymember: Check to see if they are a cosponsor of A.3525 (sponsor = Linda B. Rosenthal):

If they ARE a cosponsor, then call/email and:
• State your name, address, and that you are a constituent of the Assemblymember.
• Thank them for their support of A.3525 and that you look forward to their YES vote on the bill.
• If your Assemblymember is Linda B. Rosenthal, please do NOT contact her — she is already hard at work trying to get this bill passed.

If they are NOT a cosponsor, then call/email and:
• State your name, address, and that you are a constituent of the Assemblymember.
• Briefly explain why you believe GMO foods should be labeled.
• Ask them to cosponsor A.3525 and to support it when it comes up for a vote in 2014.

B. Find your Senator: Check to see if they are already a cosponsor of S.3835 (sponsor = Kenneth LaValle)

If they ARE a cosponsor, then call/email and:
• State your name, address, and that you are a constituent of the Senator.
• Thank them for their support of S.3835 and that you look forward to their YES vote on the bill.
• If your Senator is Kenneth LaValle, PLEASE CONTACT HIM – he needs to know there is strong support for S.3835 in his district.

If they are NOT a cosponsor, then call/email and:
• State your name, address, and that you are a constituent of the Senator.
• Briefly explain why you believe GMO foods should be labeled.
• Ask them to cosponsor S.3835 and support it when it comes up for a vote in 2014.

Please share this with every New Yorker who eats food. Thank you!

 

Stacie Orell is the Campaign Director for the NY GE Food Labeling Campaign.


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