Advocates for New York State’s proposed GMO Labeling bill converged on the Lehman campus on July 30 for a public hearing held by the Assembly Standing Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection. The bill, A.3525-A, would require all foods containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such in New York State.
Bill champion and sponsor Linda B. Rosenthal, a member of the Assembly representing District 67, along with other supporters of the bill held a press conference just before the start of the hearing.
Chaired by NYS Assemblyman and Lehman alumnus Jeffrey Dinowitz (’75), the Committee listened to arguments from consumer and food advocates about the use of biotechnology in foods and its effects on consumers as well as the potential economic and legal ramifications of requiring labels on foods containing GMOs.
The fight for GMO labeling on the state level has revved up in the last few years, with Connecticut and Maine recently passing their own bills. Those bills, however, cannot go into effect until two more states, including a neighboring state with a combined population of 20 million, adopt similar measures.
In June of 2013, A.3525-A failed to net sufficient votes from the assembly committee, but Assemblyman Dinowitz, a supporter of the bill, has vowed to bring it back to the assembly in 2014 for a vote.
Still, supporters of GMO labeling in New York State have reason to be optimistic despite recent setbacks. According to a New York Times poll conducted this year, 93 percent of those surveyed said they thought foods containing genetically modified ingredients should be identified.
To date, there is no consensus among the scientific community on the safety of GMOs. While some studies claim that foods containing GMO are safe to consume, other studies claim otherwise.
“There is global agreement that there should be both safety testing and labeling so that we can track any potential unwanted health consequences that come from such foods,” said Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a senior scientist with the Consumers Union, who gave testimony before the Committee.
A recording of the hearing is available at assembly.state.ny.us/av/.