Maryland Consumers, Farmers Call for Labeling of GMO FoodsFebruary 21st, 2014
By Kimberly Hartke
Annapolis Maryland—The Maryland General Assembly will hold hearings on legislation (HB 1191/ SB0778) that would require food manufacturers to label foods containing Genetically Modified organisms (GMOs). The legislation, introduced by Delegate Ariana Kelly on the House side and Senator Karen Montgomery in the Senate, gives consumers information on their food labels about GMO ingredients.
The bills, as drafted, require that food sold in retail outlets must be labeled if it contains more than .9% by weight of genetically modified ingredients. This bill would not affect restaurants, bake sales or cafeterias. The label would appear on the front or back of the processed food package, or on the shelf in the case of produce.
“I’ve heard from my constituents on this and they are strongly in favor of this labeling initiative,” says Delegate Ariana Kelly (District 16). “They feel they need to know what their food contains so they can make an informed choice. Consumers want this and it’s time we listen to them.”
Consumer groups across Maryland are coming out in strong support of labeling initiatives. A recent New York Times survey shows that over 90% of consumers support mandatory labels on foods that have been produced with genetic engineering.
Similar labeling laws are being considered in 29 other states this legislative session. Connecticut and Maine’s have passed, Vermont’s is awaiting final votes.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association’s member companies, including genetic engineered seed companies such as Monsanto and genetically engineered food companies such as Pepsi spent nearly $70 million to defeat ballot initiatives in California and Washington State in 2012 and 2013. Oregon and Colorado are currently starting ballot initiative campaigns and expect an even larger fight from the opposition.
Hearings in Maryland are scheduled for March 11, 2014, 1:00pm (actual start time, TBD) in the House Health and Government Operations Committee and in the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee.
The Need to Know Maryland Campaign is a grassroots effort to label foods that have been produced with genetic engineering. Concerned citizens are invited to join the campaign, NeedToKnowMARYLAND.org sign petitions and contact their legislators on the website (it’s free.) Follow the campaign on facebook, GMOfreeMARYLAND.org Follow events and weekly conference calls on: meetup.com/NeedtoKnowMARYLAND
Media Contact: Kim Hartke, Publicist, 703-860-2711, [email protected]