By Antoinette Costales
An important debate is underway concerning the labeling of genetically modified foods as a bill to mandate this action makes its way through the New York State Assembly and state Senate.
Consumers everyday have to decide what to feed themselves and their families, but they are clueless about what is in their food products because there are no rules for labeling GMOs.
Queens Assemblyman Michael DenDekker has an opportunity to change that. Bill A.617 to mandate GMO labeling recently passed the Assembly’s Consumer Affairs Committee, but the assemblyman has yet to express his support for this important consumer legislation and help bring it to the floor for a vote.
Although over 90 percent of Americans support GMO labeling, we still don’t have the choice to purchase or avoid genetically modified foods because bills to mandate labeling have been opposed by big food and beverage corporations.
Companies like Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola spent over $3 million in 2013 on lobbying and campaign contributions to defeat the GMO labeling bill when it was first introduced in the Assembly. And there is no doubt that they will try to buy their way this year as well.
The corporate interests claim that labeling will drive up food costs and be too expensive. This is simply not true. Studies done in countries where labeling is mandatory have shown that there is no noticeable impact on costs or food prices.
The same interests also want us to believe that there are no health risks associated with GMOs. I find it hard to believe that companies fighting tooth-and-nail to defeat GMO labeling aren’t trying to hide something.
Lawmakers must no longer delay passing this bill. It should be brought to the full Assembly for a vote this session. Unless we have GMO labeling on the books, there is no way of knowing if the corn in our salad has been genetically altered.
Assemblyman DenDekker should stand up for transparency and his constituents’ right to be informed about their food purchases and vote for bill A.617. Now is the right time to move this important legislation forward.
St. John’s University