Advocates for labeling genetically engineered foods (GMOs) held a rally at the office of NJ Assembly Consumer Affairs Chairman Moriarty calling for him to support a measure that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods.  At the rally advocates released a letter from over 100 advocacy organizations, including the Foodshed Alliance,  from around the state urging legislation requiring GMO labeling. The letter can be viewed here: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Dear_New_Jersey_Legislators_GMO_Letter.pdf

“Support for GMO labeling spans widely across the state, from parents who want proper information when deciding what to feed their families, to farmers who’s livelihood is threatened by contamination from GMO crops,” said Jim Walsh, New Jersey Director at Food & Water Watch. “This is about consumer choice, and opposition from big agriculture and chemical corporations that would prefer to keep people in the dark for their own profit.”

The movement to label genetically engineered foods has gained momentum over the last year where other Northeastern states have passed labeling laws. New Jersey is among nearly 30 states where labeling laws have been introduced and are working their way through the legislative process.

“Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have all passed GMO labeling laws. It’s time for New Jersey legislators to step up to the plate and join the leaders on GMO labeling. There is no acceptable justification for concealing genetically mutated substances in our food supply,” said Barbara Thomas, GMO Free NJ.

GMO crops easily contaminate non-GMO crops, threatening the consumer’s ability to chose non-GMO foods. Superweeds and pests have become resistant to GE-affiliated herbicides and pesticides, fueling the chemical treadmill, and increasing costs for farmers and consumers.

“The states labeling initiative will give consumers the right to know the story behind the food they eat and protect organic and conventional non-GMO farmers from undue harm.  Right now the entire burden sits on the shoulders of the non-gmo famer without strong consequences to the gmo farmer for contamination. At stake is the elimination of clean food and the rights of farmers to grow for a non-gmo market and consumers to choose to eat non-gmo products,” saidCamille Miller, Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Advocates in support of labeling chose the office of Assemblyman Moriarty as the backdrop for their letter release because he is chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, where the bill is awaiting a hearing and vote on the issue.  The bipartisan legislation has gained sponsorship from 36 legislators from across New Jersey, and has broad public support.

“The public has a right to know what is in the food we eat, whether its high fructose corn syrup, additives, and especially GMOs.  Many people are concerned about their impacts to health and the environment and the public has a right to make informed choices.  There is overwhelming public support for GMO labeling and the only thing holding it up is the Legislature.  We believe the bill needs and deserves a hearing and a vote.  The food lobby should not be allowed to get away with stopping this bill,” said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.