NJ Farmers Join with Legislative Leaders to Push GMO Food Labeling Bill
Farmers Cite Pollen Drift, Market Consolidation, Consumer Choice and Threat to Organics Among Needs for Labeling Law
Trenton, NJ: Following the recent movement of legislation requiring the labeling of genetically modified (GMO) foods in the State Assembly, New Jersey farmers concerned about their livelihoods joined legislative leaders today to call for passage of the bill by the full legislature. A letter was released from dozens of farmers across the state supporting the GMO labeling bill, refuting assertions made by the agribusiness industry that New Jersey farmers are opposed to the legislation. View the letter here: http://bit.ly/NJFarmersForGMOLabeling
“I consider this legislation to be one of my priorities. Consumer awareness and protection is a key element in allowing people to make informed choices,” said State Senator Robert Singer. “As more and more families are moving towards a whole-foods diet, they should not have to spend their time trying to ferret out GMO products. That information should be readily available to them.”
The GMO labeling bill gained momentum last week when the Assembly State and Local Government Committee passed it. This November, voters in Oregon will decide on a measure that would require labels on GMO foods. If passed Oregon would be the 4th state in to enact a law that requires labeling, following Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.
“As a prime sponsor of the legislation that was voted out of the ASL committee last week, I stand with our farmers about the risk of GMOs in New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Linda Stender. “A-1359 looks to improve our knowledge by requiring the labeling of all foods that contain genetically engineered material. Given the absence of concrete, long-term studies on health and environmental impacts, the bill will allow consumers to make an informed choice about the products they are purchasing for their families to eat.”
Pesticides sprayed on GMO crops can drift up to four miles and wipe out nearby specialty crops such as Jersey tomatoes, blueberries and cranberries. This not only threatens the livelihood of farmers, but also threatens consumer choice and the health and wellbeing of New Jersey residents.
“The entire burden of contamination sits on the shoulders of the non-gmo farmer. Spraying of chemicals like Round-Up and 2,4-D which drift into neighboring farms, limiting our clean seed supply which could completely wipe-out heirloom and organic seed varieties, and through gene flow contamination when pollination is completed through wind drift,” said Camille Miller Executive Director of The North East Organic Farming Association of New Jersey.
"As a sustainable farmer serving some of New Jersey's cities, I have the opportunity to discuss eating and food issues with consumers. These people, citizens of our state seek out the food I bring to market and care that no GMO seed or plants are grown on our farm," said Al Esposito, Poplar Wood Farm of Port Murray.
“What concerns us about GMO production is the copious amounts of Round-Up being used to grow GMO crops. We are just starting to see the many studies that show signs of far reaching health concerns. When I speak to consumers, this seems like one of their biggest concerns,” said Margie Neil from FAR Winds Farm of Williamstown.
"By using genetic modification techniques to cross species barriers, we take big risks with the ecosystem. Life forms in our world interact constantly and in ways we are still far from completely comprehending,” said Hisham Moharram, PhD., Good Tree Farm of New Egypt. This tinkering could lead to the decimation of a wild plant necessary to the ecosystem, and there may be nothing we can do to stop the damage once it starts," added Dr. Moharram.
“The question about labeling is not one of if, but rather of when. Consumers want labeling so they have a choice in what they eat, but based on what we are hearing from New Jersey farmers, the practices related to GMO farming are limiting their ability to chose what they want to eat,” said Jim Walsh, NJ Director of Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group who worked with NOFA to bring forward the letter released today. “The time for GMO labeling in New Jersey is now.”