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Arizona, Hawaii and Maryland Push Forward on GMO Labeling Laws

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page, Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

From a turncoat lawmaker in Arizona, to a convicted felon in Maryland, the cast of pro-GMO, anti-labeling characters is anything but dull.

But are they a match for determined anti-GMO, pro-Right-to-Know activists?

Three states—Arizona, Hawaii and Maryland—continue to move the GMO labeling ball forward. If you live in one of these states and want to get involved, we’ve provided contacts. If you live outside these states, you’ll be encouraged—and maybe inspired—by how activists are refusing to back down from industry bullies.


The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its Coalition for Affordable Safe Food, have yet to find a sponsor in Congress for their Bill to Kill GMO Labeling Laws.

But they have found a friend in the Arizona legislature.

Senator Ed Ableser (D-Dist. 26), has introduced a GMA-drafted bill, SB 1275, for the voluntary labeling of non-genetically engineered food. In defiance of the Non-GMO Project, the preeminent third-party verification program for non-genetically engineered food, the GMA’s bill would allow food from animals that have been fed genetically engineered food or injected with drugs produced with genetic engineering to be labeled as “non-genetically engineered.”

What’s happened to Sen. Ableser? Last year he sponsored SB 1180, a good bill for mandatory labels on genetically engineered food.

Arizona’s need-to-know activists aren’t hanging around the capital trying to figure that out. They’ve launched an initiative drive to label all foods sold in the state which contain “genetically modified food or ingredients consisting of or made form genetically modified foods.” The measure, if approved by voters, would include labels on meat and meat products from animals given genetically engineered feed or hormones.

Backers have until July 3 to get 172,809 valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.

Get Involved:

Right to Know Arizona


This week, a new poll shows that 76 percent of Hawaiians believe that the legislature should pass a law requiring all GMO foods sold in Hawai’i to be labeled as GMO.

On January 28, SB 2736, a bill for mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods passed the Senate Committee on Health.

According to, “In recent months, thousands have rallied on Kaua'i and Hawai'i Island, where county lawmakers have passed respective GMO bans. Hawai'i Island County Council passed a bill forbidding biotech companies from operating on the island and prohibiting all new genetically modified organisms, with the exception of the papaya industry. The Kaua'i County Council's ban requires the disclosure of pesticides and GMOs and implements buffer zones near schools, homes, medical facilities, and waterways.”

Monsanto and other proponents of genetic engineering are pushing the state legislature to act to preempt these local laws with a bill, SB 2454, that would create a task force to “determine whether a state-established regulatory regime should be established to address agricultural use of genetically modified organisms.” SB 2454 has been passed by two out of three Senate committees so far this session.


Babes Against Biotech

GMO Free Hawaii Island

GMO Free Kaua’i

GMO Free Maui

Earth Justice Mid-Pacific

Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition


Wow, if you think Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s band of GMO profiteers are a scary bunch, wait until you meet their hired guns!

In Maryland, Safeway, a grocery store that has battled consumers’ right to know in many states, is carrying the water for the anti-right-to-know crowd. Their lobbyist is the infamous “super-lobbyist,” Bruce Bereano.

According to Baltimore-based City Paper, Bereano is a convicted felon, found guilty of “stealing clients’” money by billing them falsely for “legislative services” and using the proceeds to make veiled donations to politicians from his political action committee. In 1998, he received a five-month sentence, five months in home detention, and a $30,000 fine, and he lost his license to practice law.

Today, Bereano remains a high-profile lobbyist in Annapolis, fighting GMO labeling laws for Safeway.

Want to see the pro-GMO freak show in action? Come to the Maryland General Assembly on March 11 for the 1pm hearings on legislation, HB 1191 and SB0778, that would require food manufacturers to label foods produced with genetic engineering.

Get involved:

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association.