GMO labeling leaders optimistic about “unstoppable momentum”

By Arianne Pfoutz
Published: December 28, 2013
Category: GM Food Labeling and Regulations

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With the narrow defeat of Washington and California mandatory labeling initiatives for genetically modified foods, many are wondering about the future of labeling efforts.

“I’m feeling very positive,” said Tara Cook-Littman, who helped Connecticut become the first state to pass a labeling law in June. “There is so much momentum right now—I feel it’s unstoppable.”

Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! is also very optimistic. “This is a ‘David versus Goliath’ fight: you don’t expect to go up against the most powerful corporations in the world and win right out of the gate. Every initiative from every state adds to the momentum to regain our basic democratic right to know what’s in our food.”

Citizens for GMO Labeling (CFGL) was founded to provide support—organizing, lobbying, messaging, and social media—for 15 US states pushing for state laws. Attention is now focused on Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, which may have measures pass soon. Twelve other states have labeling legislation in the works.

Maine’s governor is expected to pass the law in January. Vermont’s legislation passed the House, and goes to the Senate next year. New Hampshire’s bill will go to the House, but with an unfavorable committee vote. Massachusetts has five live bills, which will probably be consolidated and go before committee in the spring.

“With strong campaigns in Massachusetts and New York, hopefully Connecticut’s law will be enacted in 18 months,” Cook-Littman said.

Colorado and Oregon are actively pursuing ballot initiatives for 2014 similar to those in California and Washington State. Organizers in Oregon have been cleared to collect signatures.

Meanwhile, the Just Label It campaign is ready to work with industry leaders and the FDA to push for a federal solution mandating labeling. Of great concern is the current push from industry groups to create a federal solution not requiring mandatory labeling, which could preempt states’ ability to pass laws.

“The more we lose, the more we win,” Murphy said. “All roads lead to labeling. The pushes in California and Washington laid the foundation for a conversation that’s ramping up all over the country.”


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