GMO labeling supporters say new federal law preempts states

The president had signed an "industry-backed GMO labeling bill"


BOSTON (STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE) – Disappointed Massachusetts lawmakers say a new GMO labeling law signed by President Barack Obama will preempt state efforts to impose simple-to-read labels and instead rely on a system of codes and symbols.

The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, which has been pressing for passage of a state bill with 154 legislative sponsors, said the president had signed an “industry-backed GMO labeling bill” and noted that the state’s Congressional delegation was divided over the legislation dealing with genetically modified food products.

“Consumers deserve transparency around something as fundamental as the food they eat and feed their families,” said Deirdre Cummings of MassPIRG. “The new law is nothing but a gift to the big Ag and Food industries who want to keep consumers in the dark. Having lost this battle in the states, the industry pushed the sham bill through Congress to repeal GMO labeling laws already passed and in effect. While we greatly appreciate the leadership of US Senators Warren and Markey and Congresspersons McGovern, Neal, Capuano and Clark voting the right way, too many of the Massachusetts delegation, including Congresspersons Lynch, Keating, Kennedy, Moulton and Tsongas chose to side with the special interests over the public interest.”

The federal bill abolishes the GMO labeling law in Vermont, and those passed in Maine, Connecticut and Arkansas, MassPIRG said.

Amherst Rep. Ellen Story, in a statement released by MassPIRG, said the new federal law, which establishes a National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, “sabotages the efforts that states were attempting on their own.” She said, “We all know there should be a federal policy, but we would have been better off with nothing than this subversion of consumer rights. I am grateful to the six members of our Congressional delegation that voted against this bill.”

Rep. Todd Smola (R-Palmer) said the law “falls very short of a true labeling standard and Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) expressed hope that “we can continue our work, now at the federal level, to advocate for improvements that will include simple, uniform GMO labeling.”

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