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GMO Food Labels Being Considered by Mass. Lawmakers

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

BOSTON/State House - The Massachusetts legislature is currently reviewing three bills this session that may lead to food products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) to carry identifying labels.

In a public hearing Tuesday the Joint Committee on Public Health considered testimony for and against the bills, while about 150 anti-GMO protestors filled the hearing room after a short rally outside the State House.

Jack Kittredge, policy director at the Northeast Organic Farming Association, told Open Media Boston, "the issue of labeling GMO food has been around for quite a while. GMO food   began entering the market almost 20 years ago, and a number of people have been associating that with a number of human health problems ever since, and more and more people are now concerned ."

In testimony to the Committee, Gregory Costa, director of state affairs at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said, "given that the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and numerous other scientific and regulatory bodies have determined that food products containing genetically-modified ingredients are safe, and that their material are no different from their traditional counterparts, a mandatory label [stating] there's genetically modified ingredients in the product does not provide the consumer with any useful information or actionable information ."

The FDA currently does not require mandatory labeling, but it does issue guidelines to industry on voluntary labeling of goods containing GMOs, where:

• A bioengineered food is significantly different from its traditional counterpart,
• If an issue exists for the food or a constituent of the food regarding how the food is used or consequences of its use,
• If a bioengineered food has a significantly different nutritional property,
• If a new food includes an allergen that consumers would not expect to be present based on the name of the food.

Kittredge explained the push for food labeling further, saying "the idea is that people want to be able to have it clear on any kind of food that they buy whether it's genetically modified or not, in which case I expect most of them would refuse to buy it, or buy something else, and that would change the whole market around."
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