Assembly committee passes GMO labeling bill

GMO foodThe Assembly’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection passed a bill Tuesday that would require mandatory labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The bill, A.617, passed through the committee with nine affirmative votes.

The vote comes on the heels of the controversial federal approval of genetically engineered salmon late last year — the first GMO animal approved for human consumption.

Lawmakers who support the bill say Americans overwhelmingly want mandatory labeling of genetically modified food. According to polls by ABC News and The New York Times, over 90 percent of consumers support mandatory labeling.

“I believe New Yorkers have a fundamental right to know what is in their food, including whether it contains any genetically engineered ingredients,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee.

In December, The New York Times penned a powerful editorial supporting GMO labeling. Just weeks ago, Campbell’s Soup announced its intention to label GMO products.

This past fall, the FDA approved a genetically engineered salmon — the first GMO animal approved for human consumption — which will not be labeled when it hits store shelves.

The bill mandates the labeling of foods that have been produced with genetic engineering, providing consumers with basic information about what’s in their food and how it is made.

“Today’s vote … moves us one step closer to fulfilling New Yorkers’ right to know what is in the food they feed their families,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, the bill’s sponsor. “With the recent FDA approval of the controversial GMO salmon, more and more people across the U.S. are demanding that states pass labeling laws. Now is the time for Albany to act and pass mandatory GMO labeling in 2016.”

Sixty-four countries — including the European Union, Australia, Japan, China, Russia and India — require GMO labeling. Here in the United States, Alaska, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont already have labeling laws.

The Assembly bill is now in the Codes Committee. The Senate bill (S.485-b) is sponsored by Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, and is in the Consumer Protection Committee.