Call to Action – GMO Labeling
TOMORROW – Wednesday, February 10th, the House of Representatives will be voting on HB1674 which would require GMOs be labeled in our state. The majority of Environment and Agriculture Committee has recommended the House reject HB1674 – call your representatives TODAY to have your voice heard, as your representatives can still vote to overturn this recommendation and vote on the bill!
You may recall 2 years ago a bill requiring the labeling of GMOS was before our State Legislature (HB660). When the bill was before the House of Representatives, by a vote of 185-162, the House sided with the Environment and Agriculture Committee who recommended the bill not pass. The defeat of this bill was a great disappointment to the Monadnock Food Co-op, as we strongly support your right to know whether or not your foods have been produced using genetic modification. Polls Nationwide, as well as in the Granite State, have shown overwhelming consumer support for fact-based labeling.
Since the defeat of HB660, GMO labeling efforts in neighboring states have accelerated. Our neighbors in Maine, Connecticut and Vermont have all passed GMO labeling bills; Vermont is leading the charge with scheduled implemented on July 1, 2016 (pending the results of a lawsuit led by the Grocery Manufacturers of America against the State). Massachusetts and Rhode Island are currently working on similar legislation, as are other states across the country. New Hampshire’s bill is modeled after the legislation in surrounding states, ensuring cohesiveness in implementation of all the laws in the Northeast.
You can imagine our excitement at the Co-op when late last week we were notified that another GMO labeling bill (HB1674) had been introduced and was before the Environment and Agriculture Committee. As Sustainability Coordinator, I had the great pleasure of going to the Legislative Building in Concord to testify in support of labeling on behalf of the Monadnock Food Co-op. There were over 60 people who came to observe the hearing or testify, so many that the hearing lasted the entire day.
I had the opportunity to hear New Hampshire citizens, business owners, farmers and even the Senior Staff Scientist from Consumers Union, Dr. Michael Hansen, passionately testify in support of labeling GMOs. People had diverse reasons for their support but it all boiled down to one basic idea, simply, we have the right to know what is in our food. We deserve this privilege that citizens of 64 other nations already enjoy.
Unfortunately there remains widespread misinformation about GMO labeling and the effect it will (or won’t) have. The bill would simply require foods containing GMOs to carry the label “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering”. This type of labeling serves the same purpose as an ingredient list or nutrition label already found on packaging. These facts provide consumers the information needed to make choices based on their personal preference, cultural beliefs, religion, allergy concerns, and more. We also believe such labeling protects the free market ensuring democracy and transparency.
As both passionate and logical as the supporting testimony was, it was not enough for a majority of the Environment and Agriculture Committee to vote for a favorable recommendation of the bill. By a vote of 12 – 7 the majority of the committee voted “Inexpedient To Legislate” or “kill the bill”. Tomorrow, February 10th, the full House of Representatives will review this recommendation and vote on the bill. The Representatives could still vote to overturn the committee’s recommendation and subsequently vote to pass the bill. When the House was faced with a similar situation with the labeling bill in 2014, the vote to overturn the recommendation fell short by just 23 votes (from 400 representatives).
Your representatives need to hear from you! Click here to find out who your representatives are and how to contact them. We highly recommend giving them a quick phone call to share your opinion, however, if you prefer e-mail you can find a template here created by Citizens for GMO Labeling. You can read the full text of the bill here. We will monitor the vote on Wednesday closely. Watch our Facebook page for updates!
Links for representatives by town – click on your Representative’s name to see their phone number. Phone calls are absolutely the best way to communicate your support on any issue.