Date: 10 February 2016
Author: Christina Sarich
Joining numerous other states
New Yorkers may soon be able to shop without the confusing sift through GM food packaging marked, “all natural” or “100% wholesome.”
This is thanks to a pending mandatory GMO labeling bill which recently, passed through New York State Assembly’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection.
Bill A617B would require mandatory labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms, and does not leave it up to Big Food maker’s whims to label food if they feel so inclined. The GMO labeling bill now moves onto the next committee where it needs to pass to make it through to final legislation.
The bill summary states:
“[The bill] provides for the labeling of raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, seed, and seed stock produced with genetic engineering; defines terms; imposes penalties for false labels and misbranding; sets forth exemptions.”
A617B passed through the committee with 9 affirmative votes, following the controversial federal approval of genetically engineered salmon — the first GMO animal approved for human consumption. The fish was approved despite thousands of pleas from consumers to halt the approval process through the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as an emergency lawsuit launched to try to keep the GM fish from reaching consumers.
Lawmakers who support the bill say that Americans overwhelmingly want mandatory labeling of genetically modified food. According to numerous polls, over 90% of consumers support GMO labeling.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee, stated:
“I believe New Yorkers have a fundamental right to know what is in their food, including whether it contains any genetically engineered ingredients.”
With or without mandatory labeling, consumers are turning their backs on companies that regularly use GM ingredients. Those who don’t comply with consumer’s wishes will likely find themselves left out in the cold. Just weeks ago, Campbell’s Soup announced its intention to label GMO products.
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, the bill’s sponsor, explained:
“Today’s vote … moves us one step closer to fulfilling New Yorkers’ right to know what is in the food they feed their families. With the recent FDA approval of the controversial GMO salmon, more and more people across the U.S. are demanding that states pass labeling laws. Now is the time for Albany to act and pass mandatory GMO labeling in 2016.”
Here in the US, Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont already have labeling laws.
The Assembly bill is now in the Codes Committee. The Senate bill (S.485-b) is sponsored by Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, and is in the Consumer Protection Committee.