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Massachusetts Legislature Considers Labels For Genetically Modified Foods

I have rarely written about food. I do so today because it involves both corporate responsibility and the accurate notification of consumers. Without notification, consumers lose the freedom to make informed choices about the products they buy.

Last week, the Massacusetts legislature held hearings about food labels for genetically modified (GMO) foods. Three bills are under consideration: H1936 authored by Rep. Stephen DiNatale (D-Fitchburg), H2037 by Rep. Michael Moran (D-Brighton), and H2093 by Ellen Story (D-Amherst).

At the hearings last week, about 150 protesters attended with a rally before the hearings. Going forward, the three bills ideally will be combined into a single bill.Some findings from a June 2012 ABC News poll:

  • 52% of Americans considered GMO foods unsafe. 13% were not sure
  • 93% believed the federal government should require GMO food labels
  • 57% said they'd be less likely to buy foods labeled GMO

A March 2013 poll by the Huffington Post and YouGov (Adobe PDF document) found:

  • 35% considered GMO foods unsafe. 44% were not sure
  • 35% considered GMO crops bad for the environment. 39% were not sure
  • 82% said GMO foods should be labeled

Woe to politicians who ignore these findings.

For me, it is all about safety and freedom of choice for consumers. With GMO food labels, consumers can make informed choices about what to buy and what goes in their bodies. Without GMO food labels, consumers lose the freedom of choice as companies then dictate what consumers eat. Legislative represents arguing against GMO food labels are implicitly saying freedom of choice for consumers is irrelevant, and companies' needs are more important.

Without GMO food labels, this sets a bad precedent to exclude other items from food labels. There should be no exceptions. If it's in the product, it should be on the labels. As a nutritionist advised me, the food label is about the only place on products where consumers get (reasonably) accurate information about what is in the product.

Contact your Massachusetts State representative today. To learn more, visit:

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