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Cary Brunswick

May 13, 2014

New York should follow Vermont's lead

Now that Vermont has approved a law requiring the labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients, it is time for New York state lawmakers to do the same.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the bill Thursday after state legislators approved it last month. Vermont is the first state in the U.S, to have a non-contingent GMO-labeling law, though it doesn’t take effect for two years.

Connecticut and Maine have labeling laws that require a number of states to pass laws before they take effect.

Ken Cook, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group (EWG), said “Vermont sent a clear message that it has sided with the 93 percent of Americans who support mandatory labeling, and not the chemical companies who want to keep us in the dark.’’

He added that ``Americans, regardless of whether they live in Vermont or any other state, want and deserve the right to know more about their food.’’

The Vermont law also prevents GMO foods from being labeled with terms such as ``natural’’ or other misleading statements.

Both the Assembly and Senate in New York have bills pending that would require the labeling of genetically engineered seed, stock and food for retail sale in the state. The bills were introduced last year but didn’t go anywhere, so sponsors reintroduced them this year.

The group GMO Free NY has launched a petition drive accessible through its website, www.gmofreeny.net. When complete, the petition will be forwarded to state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Opponents of labeling laws, primarily the biotech industry and grocery trade groups, insist GMO foods are safe and therefore products do not need to be labeled. But there has been no scientific consensus on safety, so labeling would provide consumers with the facts to make educated decisions on food purchases.

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Cary Brunswick

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