Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Maryland Introduces GMO Labeling Bill Despite Opposition From Food Industry

Food
Maryland Introduces GMO Labeling Bill Despite Opposition From Food Industry

Maryland Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery) sparred with farm industry representatives and fellow legislators on Tuesday over whether or not her bill to label genetically modified food would empower grocery shoppers or scare them unnecessarily.

Polls show more than 90 percent of Americans want genetically engineered food labeling. In 2013, 50 bills were introduced requiring labeling in 26 states.

During this week's Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee hearing, Montgomery said that while genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are "not all evil," shoppers still have a right to information about questionable foods in their shopping carts, reports The Huffington Post.

Under Montgomery's bill, SB 0778, all foods containing GMOs would need an identifying label starting July 1, 2015.

The bill would require the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to implement the labeling mandate.

For the proposal to succeed, the Senate must vote on it by Monday, the deadline for bills to be forwarded to the House. A hearing on an identical House bill had been scheduled for Tuesday in the House Health and Government Operations Committee but was postponed to March 18. 

Nick Maravell, who owns a Buckeystown Pike, MD farm, said even though his organic certification prohibits use of GMOs, customers still ask about them.

"It's probably the most-often-asked question I get," he said during the senate hearing.

John Beutler, secretary of the board of directors for Common Market, said he supports Montgomery's proposal because his Frederick-based co-op has long backed truth in labeling.

However, others said identifying food as genetically altered is unnecessary since there's no empirical data that proves genetically engineered food is harmful, said Earl F. Hance, Maryland's secretary of agriculture.

Other pro-GMO representatives described the problems that arise from labeling.

"We feel that this bill is a way to limit GMO crops as well as create a negative stigma on GMO foods," said Colby Ferguson, government relations director for the Maryland Farm Bureau.

As the world's population continues its steady growth, further genetic modification will play a key role in producing enough food to meet the demand, said Ferguson. Genetic engineering allows for more robust crop growth on less land and a reduced need for fertilizers, water and pesticides, he added.

Yet activists and protestors have vehemently rejected the idea that GMOs use less pesticides, given that pesticide use has grown exponentially over the last decade and is only expected to rise even higher due to genetically engineered crops' resistance to the highly toxic chemicals. 

The Fight to Label GMOs

Even though 64 countries have mandated the labeling of GMO foods, the U.S. has been slow to adopt such regulation. Connecticut and Maine have passed labeling laws, but the rules do not go into effect until other states establish the same requirement.

California Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) recently introduced Senate Bill 1381, which would require GMO food labeling, and New York Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has introduced comparable legislation as well. 

If California and New York succeed, New Jersey could become the fifth state needed to enact the law, as farmers from the Garden State are now urging their respective lawmakers to introduce GMO legislation, reports The Star Ledger

However, the future is less than certain given the food industry's powerful pro-GMO lobby, which helped defeat previous GMO labeling bills in California and Washington.

Visit EcoWatch’s GMO page for more related news on this topic.

 

By Liz Kimbrough

Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the "Green Nobel Prize," this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continents.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mount Ili Lewotolok spews ash during a volcanic eruption in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara on November 29, 2020. Joy Christian / AFP / Getty Images

A large volcano in Indonesia erupted Sunday, sending a plume of smoke and ash miles into the air and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate the region.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kaavan in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept. 4, 2020. Arne Immanuel Bänsch / picture alliance via Getty Images

With help from music icon Cher, the "world's loneliest elephant" has found a new home and, hopefully, a new family.

Read More Show Less
Climate change is causing leaves to change color and fall earlier in the year. Pxfuel

By Philip James

As the days shorten and temperatures drop in the northern hemisphere, leaves begin to turn. We can enjoy glorious autumnal colors while the leaves are still on the trees and, later, kicking through a red, brown and gold carpet when out walking.

Read More Show Less
Kevin Russ / Moment / Getty Images

By Kang-Chun Cheng

Modoc County lies in the far northeast corner of California, and most of its 10,000 residents rely on cattle herding, logging, or government jobs for employment. Rodeos and 4-H programs fill most families' calendars; massive belt buckles, blue jeans, and cowboy hats are common attire. Modoc's niche brand of American individualism stems from a free-spirited cowboy culture that imbues the local ranching conflict with wild horses.

Read More Show Less