GMO Labeling

The Massachusetts Federation of Young Republicans is proud to post content from Republican state legislators to keep our members apprised of legislation on Beacon Hill. This is the fourth in a series of guest posts by Republicans in the State House who are working on the legislation that matters most to Massachusetts.

By Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren)

In election years, both parties are busy highlighting the differences between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. I would like to take this opportunity to address an issue which has received support on Beacon Hill from both sides of the aisle and has put Massachusetts at the forefront of an important national debate.

Foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients are commonly known as GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Over the period of the last decade, a number of GMO related bills have worked their way through the Massachusetts legislature with no success. As a sponsor of GMO labeling legislation for the past decade, I felt a change in strategy this term was long overdue. Joining with Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst) in a bipartisan effort, we have worked to build one of the strongest legislative coalitions in the history of the state legislature with H3242: An act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act.

This legislation would ensure that all foods sold in Massachusetts that contain genetically engineered ingredients be clearly labeled. Currently food manufacturers are required to list ingredients and nutritional information on their products, which allows consumers to make informed choices. GMO ingredients should be labeled in the same way. We are encouraged by the overwhelming amount of bipartisan support from our colleagues in the House and Senate who have signed on as cosponsors of this proposal.  More than 75% (154) of the legislative members have added their names and support to this important cause.

GMO labeling is an issue that is gaining widespread support at the local, state and national levels. According to a poll conducted by the New York Times, 93 percent of Americans support labeling foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have already passed GMO labeling laws. On the global stage, the United States is one of only two industrialized nations which have not yet adopted mandatory GMO labeling.

It is the right of all people to know what foods they are buying and how they are produced. Labeling GMOs will provide information and promote transparency. H3242 has received widespread bi-partisan support during the current legislative session and I am confident that we can continue to make progress. The bill was recently released from committee and is moving in a positive direction. It is my sincere hope that Massachusetts can join the chorus of GMO labeling support that is growing by the day and lead the nation in a solid policy that others can look to as a model. I know that we can get there.

Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren) is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways & Means