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Connecticut Farm to Food http://ctfarmtofood.org Support Biotech and Farmers Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:31:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 For dairy farmers, every day is Earth Day http://ctfarmtofood.org/for-dairy-farmers-every-day-is-earth-day/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/for-dairy-farmers-every-day-is-earth-day/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:31:01 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=1116 Millions of people around the world will soon celebrate Earth Day, but for hundreds of New England’s dairy farmers, every day is Earth Day.

We’re talking about farmers like the Erb family. The Erbs own and operate Springvale Farms and Landaff Creamery in Landaff. This was one of three pilot farms that assisted the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in creating an on-farm sustainability assessment tool, called the Vital Capital Index for Dairy Agriculture. This tool allows farms to measure what matters and establish a baseline of sustainability on farms.

Talk to most dairy farmers, and their “going green” stories are similar.

In 2012, the Gervais Farm in Vermont was part of a pilot project of aerial seeding of cover crops by helicopter on 730 acres of corn fields. After the corn is harvested, the cover crop grows throughout the winter on the corn field and is an environmentally sustainable way for farmers to prevent nutrients from leaving the fields. The farm also reduces fuel emissions by transporting manure directly from the manure pit through a long pipeline hose to a tractor in the field. The manure is injected directly into the soil (you can’t see or smell it!), protecting water quality and soil health.

Freund’s Farm in East Canaan, Conn., has made its name not only for its milk, but for CowPots, compostable planting containers made from cow manure. By figuring out what to do with the tons of cow manure produced by its milking herd each year, the Freunds have taken recycling to a logical next step, and saved a little piece of the planet at the same time.

Keewaydin Farm in Stowe, Vt., also operates an anaerobic methane digester that helps generate electricity, saving money and the planet. The digester provides two useful byproducts: the liquid byproduct is used as fertilizer on the fields, and the solid byproduct as cow bedding.

Each year at the Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley, Mass., over 14,000 tons of food waste and food processing byproducts are put into an anaerobic digester that blends it with the farm’s cow manure. The renewable energy produced by the anaerobic digester is sent in the form of energy credits to the Cabot Creamery Cooperative facility in West Springfield, Mass., where the farm’s milk is processed, and offsets all the energy needed to make Cabot butter.

We might take this Earth Day to salute the region’s dairy farmers for their original thinking and endless ingenuity.

(Bryan Davis is chairman of the New England Dairy & Food Council and New England Dairy Promotion Board. Since 1978, he and his wife, Susan, have owned and operated Grand View Farm in Derby Line, Vt.)

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USDA letter on federal GMO labeling law http://ctfarmtofood.org/department-of-agriculture-to-the-states/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/department-of-agriculture-to-the-states/#respond Thu, 02 Mar 2017 16:56:47 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=1103 On July 29, 2016, President Obama signed into law an Act amending the Agricultural Marketing at of 1946 which provides for a national bioengineered food disclosure standard. The FDA sent letters to Governor Malloy explaining that under this new law there is no longer a need for state-specific labeling laws given that the Federal Government had set a uniform standard.

Click on the link below to see the letter.

Connecticut

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How People, Water and Agriculture Connect – Food Insight http://ctfarmtofood.org/how-people-water-and-agriculture-connect-food-insight/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/how-people-water-and-agriculture-connect-food-insight/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 22:02:32 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=1088 When you think of water, what comes to mind? Is it a cool swig after a hard workout? Is it your beach vacation from last year? Or is it whether or not enough water will fall from the sky to grow your food?

March 22 is World Water Day, and it’s an opportunity to reflect on the importance of water. This year’s theme is “better water, better jobs.” How does water impact agriculture, which employs nearly 1 billion people around the world? Let’s take a look.

Although nearly 70 percent of the Earth is covered in water, only 2.5 percent of that water is fresh. To complicate things, only 1 percent of that fresh water is easily accessible. To sum it up, only 0.025 percent of the planet’s water is available for human use.

Agriculture uses a lot of water, accounting for almost 70 percent of all withdrawals and up to 95 percent in developing countries where there may be fewer technologies to make water use efficient. While you only need to drink about a gallon of water per day, it takes 528 to 1,320 gallons of water to grow the food you eat in a single day. Think about that.

Water is important in maintaining food security, which is defined as “regular access of people to enough high-quality food to leave active, healthy lives.” Lack of water, or too much water, can contribute to famine and undernourishment, especially where people depend on local agriculture for their livelihood. Using water efficiently is critical.

Irrigation is an important technology to help maximize the efficiency of water use in agriculture. The highest yields that can be obtained from irrigation are more than double the best yields from rain-fed agriculture. For instance, drip irrigation involves distributing water at very low rates from a system of plastic pipes with outlets called emitters or drippers. The water is released so that the only part of the soil that receives moisture is where the root grows.

Read the entire article and learn more about agricultural innovation here.picture-79-1403036319

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Court Or Congress Likely To Kill Needless GMO Labels http://ctfarmtofood.org/court-or-congress-likely-to-kill-needless-gmo-labels/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/court-or-congress-likely-to-kill-needless-gmo-labels/#respond Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:15:53 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=1054 The future of Connecticut’s law mandating the labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms has been thrown in doubt by Congress and a court. And that’s just fine. The law is needless.
The law — which has never taken effect — may be nullified. The law’s supporters are calling this threat a victory of big agribusiness and the supermarket lobby over consumers. In fact, nullifying the law would be a victory of common sense over ill-informed fretting.

A federal appeals court in New York City will soon hear a challenge to Vermont’s GMO-labeling law, which is similar to Connecticut’s. And the U.S. Senate may pass a bill to stop states from requiring GMO labels. The House has already done so.
No Lack of Evidence

After more than 2,000 studies, foods made with GMOs have been shown to be just as safe as food created by natural genetic selection. That hasn’t stopped the fearmongering by talk show hosts and the publication of GMO scare books.

According to a 2012 report by the American Medical Association, “Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.”
GMO labeling is framed by its advocates as a consumer-friendly issue, however — which is why some politicians continue to back it even as the evidence shows it’s entirely unnecessary.

Supporting Ignorance

So what’s wrong with providing consumers with information about the products they buy?
In most cases, nothing. Having more information often leads to a wiser purchase.

But mandating the labeling of foods as genetically modified implies that they are somehow dangerous and feeds into anti-scientific ignorance. It’s in the same category as the anti-vaccination mania, fear of fluoridation and the widespread (yet incorrect) belief that climate change is a hoax.

The reason Connecticut’s GMO-labeling law is in limbo is that in 2013, our legislators wisely required that four other states enact similar laws before ours takes effect. These four states must be in the Northeast and have a combined population of 20 million. At least one of the four must abut Connecticut.

Unsurprisingly, given all the criteria, this has yet to happen.
The grocery industry and agrochemical companies like Monsanto have indeed lobbied hard against GMO labeling, saying the goal of proponents is to ban GMO foods altogether. The proponents, for their part, say these companies are putting profits ahead of public safety.

In this case, the companies have independent research on their side.
As for labeling, it is already easy for consumers to know a product’s genetic makeup. Non-engineered items routinely carry the label “USDA Organic.” Anything else can safely be assumed to have GMOs.

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Connecticut’s GMO Law In Jeopardy http://ctfarmtofood.org/connecticuts-gmo-law-in-jeopardy/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/connecticuts-gmo-law-in-jeopardy/#respond Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:53:55 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=1052 The fate of Connecticut’s 2-year-old law to require the labeling of foods made from genetically modified organisms may soon be decided, either in a federal courtroom or in Congress.

A federal appeals court in New York City is scheduled to hear oral arguments this week, in a challenge to Vermont’s GMO law. If the food industry wins in that case, Connecticut’s labeling statute would also be in jeopardy.

But the greatest threat to GMO labeling laws in Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine now appears to be in Congress. Responding to an intense lobbying effort by the grocery industry and pro-GMO companies like Monsanto, the House voted 275-150 in July for legislation that would stop individual states from requiring GMO food labeling.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who voted against that bill, said it appears likely the Senate will follow suit. “The House vote is a pretty good measuring stick,” Courtney said of the measure’s chances in the Senate.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which is pushing hard for federal action to stop states from acting individually on GMO labeling, are sounding confident.

Mike Gruber senior vice president with the grocery industry lobbying group, said a Senate committee is set to take up the GMO issue at an Oct. 21 hearing and that there is strong bipartisan support for legislation to overturn individual state GMO laws like Connecticut’s.

“We would like to get this whole issue resolved before the end of the year,” Gruber said. The food industry insists there is no health or safety need to tell consumers that a food contains genetically modified organisms, that scientific studies show GMOs are just as good as ‘natural’ foods, and argue that putting on GMO labels would only confuse people and push up food costs for everyone.

Anti-GMO activists are calling the federal legislation the “Deny American the Right to Know,” or DARK Act. They cite numerous polls showing that GMO food labeling is supported by a majority of Americans.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said all indications are that it will be “an uphill battle” to stop the industry-backed GMO legislation from winning Senate approval.

“I am ready and eager to work against it,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal is supporting a Democratic bill that would order the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require GMO labels for genetically modified foods. But passage of that legislation in a Republican-controlled Senate appears unlikely.

Recent decisions by some major food manufacturers and retailers to begin marketing non-GMO products reflect the growing popularity of organic and non-processed and so-called natural foods. In July, the Obama administration also announced that it’s planning to update the way the federal government regulates GMOs and other biotechnology products.

According to a USA Today report, an estimated 95 percent of the U.S. sugar beet crop involves GMOs. Almost
the same percentage of America’s soybeans are genetically modified and about 88 percent of corn used as feed for cattle, pigs and chickens is grown from GMO seeds.

The GMO labeling law that passed in Connecticut’s General Assembly in 2013 was one of the first in the nation and had some highly unusual conditions attached. Connecticut’s law can’t take effect until at least four other states also approve GMO labeling, the combined population of those states must equal at least 20 million and at least one of those states must border Connecticut.

Massachusetts lawmakers are now poised to fulfill at least one of those conditions by passing GMO labeling legislation, according to two key supporters of that bill.

According to Massachusetts Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, 154 of her state’s 200 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of the GMO bill. Rep. Todd Smola, a Republican from Warren, Mass., said backers of the legislation “have a pretty good shot this time” of winning passage.

In New York, anti-GMO activists say they plan to make another try in 2016 to push through their own labeling bill. Stacie Orell, a spokeswoman for GMO Free New York, predicted there is a good chance to win approval in the New York Assembly but added that the Republican-controlled Senate looks “a little tougher.”
Among the fiercest opponents of GMO labeling laws are the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food
Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers .

Those four industry organizations are plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to overturn Vermont’s GMO labeling law, which is set to take effect in July 2016.

Earlier this year, a federal judge rejected the industry groups’ request for an injunction to stop the Vermont statute from taking effect while the lawsuit is being litigated. The case is now before the U.S. Second Court of Appeals in New York City.

Connecticut is one of eight states that have filed briefs in support of Vermont in the GMO lawsuit.
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said the lawsuit hinges on the issues “of free speech and legislative prerogatives.”

In a brief filed with the appeals court in late August, Jepsen’s legal staff argued that allowing the food industry groups to block Vermont’s law “threatens to undermine a wide range of labeling and public reporting laws” for food, pharmaceutical products and consumer goods and services.

Gruber said the Vermont law is “proving itself to be very disruptive” because food producers, wholesalers and retailers are “scrambling to figure out how to comply” with the statute’s provisions. They also desperately want to avoid the law’s potential fines, which could amount to $1,000 per day per product.
GMO labeling, said Gruber, “is designed to mislead consumers that these [GMO] products are unsafe.”
Lawmakers and activists in New York, Massachusetts and other states considering GMO labeling laws argue that, if GMO products are as wholesome and safe as the food industry claims, telling consumers which foods are genetically modified shouldn’t be a big deal.

“We’re not asking for a lot,” said Smola, who has been pushing for GMO food labeling for years. “We’re trying to educate the public to let them make their own decisions. That’s the American way.”

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No GMO Label Needed http://ctfarmtofood.org/no-gmo-label-needed/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/no-gmo-label-needed/#respond Sat, 21 Feb 2015 14:21:30 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=997 At first blush, it sounds like a good idea: require the labeling of genetically engineered foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat. Yet such a law, proposed by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and other senators, simply caters to unjustified worries and makes no sense scientifically.

Genetically modified food isn’t new. Since farming began, humans have been breeding food — in other words, changing the genetics — for beneficial traits and better crops. The practice has moved from the field to the lab, as scientists can now transplant genes from species to species.

The laboratory angle worries some people, and in recent years about 2,000 studies have been done on genetically modified foods to uncover any problem. The result? According to the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Science and several other groups, so-called GMO food — made with genetically modified organisms — is safe.

As the European Commission put it, engineering crops genetically is “no more risky than conventional plant-breeding techniques.”

Despite the failure of research to come up with hazards, what’s wrong with better informing consumers by labeling genetically engineered food? Several things.

Such a move doesn’t inform consumers so much as it caters to misconceptions, and government shouldn’t be about that. Labels may limit consumer choice: Despite the lack of proof that such crops endanger anyone, retailers may choose not to stock certain foods. And mostly, politics shouldn’t trump science.

Perhaps the oddest aspect of the genetically engineered label debate is that the labels already exist, in a sense.

The majority of food found in the supermarket, especially processed food, contains some genetically engineered component. Non-engineered items routinely carry the label “USDA Organic.”

Lack of such a designation almost always indicates some genetic engineering, so those who are worried about a potential hazard need only look for the label. No new law is necessary.

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89% Of Scientists Believe Genetically Modified Foods Are Safe http://ctfarmtofood.org/89-of-scientists-believe-genetically-modified-foods-are-safe/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/89-of-scientists-believe-genetically-modified-foods-are-safe/#respond Tue, 03 Feb 2015 19:26:10 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=977 Pew Research Center study on science literacy, undertaken in cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and released on January 29, contains a blockbuster: In sharp contrast to public skepticism about GMOs, 89% of scientists believe genetically modified foods are safe.

That overwhelming consensus exceeds the percentage of scientists, 88%, who believe global warming is the result of human activity. However, the public appears far more suspicious of scientific claims about GMO safety than they do about the consensus on climate change.

Some 57 percent of Americans say GM foods are unsafe and a startling 67% do not trust scientists, believing they don’t understand the science behind GMOs. Scientists blame poor reporting by mainstream scientists for the trust and literacy gaps.

The survey also contrasts sharply with a statement published earlier this week in a marginal pay-for-play European journal by a group of anti-GMO scientists and activists, including Michael Hansen of the Center for Food Safety, and philosopher Vandana Shiva, claiming, “no scientific consensus on GMO safety.”

A huge literacy gap between scientists and the public on biotechnology is one of the many disturbing nuggets that emerged from the Pew Research Center survey, which was conducted in cooperation with the AAAS, the world’s largest independent general scientific society. The full study, released on January 29, is available here.

This survey, the first of several reports to be released in coming months, compares the views of scientists and the general public on the role of science in the United States and globally.

The eye opening take-away: The American population in general borders on scientific illiteracy. The gap between what scientists believe, grounded on empirical evidence, often sharply differs from what the general public thinks is true. The differences are sharpest over biomedical research, including GMOs.

  • 88% of AAAS scientists think eating GM food is safe, while only 37% of the public believes that’s true—a 51-percentage point gap
  • 68% of scientists say it is safe to eat food grown with pesticides, compared with 28% of citizens—a 40% gap.
  • A 42-percentage point gap over the issue of using animals in research—89% of scientists favor it, while only 47% of the public backs the idea.
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House Defeats GMO Grass Seed Ban http://ctfarmtofood.org/house-defeats-gmo-grass-seed-ban/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/house-defeats-gmo-grass-seed-ban/#respond Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:48:49 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=954 by Christine Stuart

Less than 24 hours after the Senate approved a bill banning genetically modified grass seed, the House found bipartisan agreement to kill it.

The bill was a top priority for outgoing Senate President Donald Williams. But House Speaker Brendan Sharkey was not sold on the idea or consulted about the bill.

In a show of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans worked Thursday to defeat it by a 103-37 vote.

Following the vote, Sharkey said Williams never had a conversation with him about the legislation.

“I’ve never, ever been consulted about this bill by anyone in the Senate,” Sharkey said. “And the advocates wanted a vote on the bill, so I thought it was important to have vote and avoid the distraction that was going to inevitably occur if we kept it on our calendar.”

He said the same thing happened last year with the GMO labeling bill, which bounced back and forth between chambers before finally winning the approval of all the stakeholders.

Sharkey said he voted against the GMO grass bill because he believes there should have been a public hearing.

“It’s too important to take up and do without getting input from all those stakeholders,” Sharkey said.

Genetically modified grass isn’t on the market yet, but supporters worry about what will happen if it gets out there. Proponents of the legislation say the genetically modified grass would increase the use of glyphosate or other herbicides because it would be resistant to those herbicides.

There’s also the threat of the seed spreading and cross-pollinating with other grass species and spreading individual genes from one species to another. This could lead to an artificially modified gene spreading into the broader gene pool, with untold consequences, Williams explained Wednesday during the Senate debate.

However, opponents of the legislation say it sends a bad message to business and scientists.

“We have a bill before us that says if some business out there is even thinking — thinking — about making such a thing, don’t bother cause you ain’t gonna sell it in Connecticut,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero

Cafero thought the concept was absurd.

“It doesn’t even exist and we’re going to ban it,” Cafero said. “Put down your beakers, put down your microscopes . . . save your time, change professions, ‘cause you ain’t doing it in Connecticut. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?”

A number of lawmakers, even those who supported the bill, said they were insulted the bill wasn’t raised for a public hearing.

“I don’t know anything about the substance to feel comfortable voting on this,” Rep. Michael D’Agostino, D-Hamden, said.

Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said she was concerned about how the bill came to the Environment Committee, but she worries the product will be sold next year. She said she believes it could be dangerous to the environment.

“This is our one chance to make this product go away before it arrives in the state,” Mushinsky said.

Lance Latham, a spokesman for Scotts MiracleGro, which is developing a genetically engineered grass seed, said Wednesday that it won’t be on the market for another “few years.”

“They’re welcome to visit our research facilities in Ohio, talk with our scientists and see firsthand why we believe our enhanced grass seed can one day bring about significant environmental benefits,” Latham said. “They’re also welcome to visit any of our facilities in Connecticut and meet with our 260 employees who live and work in the state.”

Despite the vote in the House, Williams said he was proud of what the Senate accomplished.

“Senate Democrats — joined by three Republicans — made history by taking a stand against the chemical companies and special interests which are poised to dump tens of thousands of gallons of pesticides on lawns across Connecticut,” Williams said.

Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney called the vote a disappointment.

“The House vote today is disappointing. Despite the fact that research has extensively documented the adverse impact of poisonous chemicals on human health and the environment, all too often government ignores the precautionary principle and takes action only after harm occurs,” Looney said.

In a statement, Senate Democrats said some of those who opposed the ban complained about the process, but failed to acknowledge that the initiative was discussed at two public hearings and that dozens of experts and citizens weighed-in. Organizations such as the Sierra Club and the CT League of Conservation Voters joined regular citizens in supporting the proposal.

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Courant: New GMO Law Unnecessary http://ctfarmtofood.org/courant-new-gmo-law-unnecessary/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/courant-new-gmo-law-unnecessary/#respond Fri, 20 Dec 2013 16:41:16 +0000 http://ctfarmtofood.org/?p=936 Courant.com

New GMO Law Unnecessary

A new law requires genetically modified food to be so labeled; the good news is that due to built-in qualifications, it can’t take effect yet.

“But there’s a catch, fortunately: The law won’t take effect until four other states enact similar legislation”

Read the rest of the article here

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Connecticut News http://ctfarmtofood.org/ctnews/ http://ctfarmtofood.org/ctnews/#respond Wed, 08 May 2013 08:15:56 +0000 http://elegantthemes.com/preview/DeepFocus/?p=217  

CTRetailMerchants

Connecticut Retailers Warn Legislature On Bill Requiring Labeling Of Genetically Engineered Food

“Forcing a labeling requirement will put Connecticut merchants on an island in relation to neighboring state competitors and the rest of the country”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 2013 – The Connecticut Retail Merchants Association (CRMA) today stated their opposition to pending legislation that would mandate the labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients in Connecticut.

“Forcing a labeling requirement will put Connecticut merchants on an island in relation to neighboring state competitors and the rest of the country,” said Timothy Phelan, President of the CRMA.  “If Connecticut becomes the only state in the nation to require labeling our Legislature is putting local retailers at a competitive disadvantage.”Phelan pointed out that labeling requirements place an undue burden on retailers and the customers they serve, making store owners the watchdogs of every label on thousands of products on their store shelves.  “If the Legislature passes these labeling bills it will send a message that Connecticut is unfriendly to business,” said Phelan.  “We’re doing just fine without labeling and those consumers who voluntarily choose to eat only organic products have plenty of options, so why would we mandate this costly measure?”

Phelan said that thousands and thousands of genetically engineered products have been in stores for decades with no health or safety problems, and that scientists and federal food safety officials agree that genetically engineered products are a safe and vital part of the food economy in the United States.

The Connecticut Retail Merchants Association has been representing retailers at the State Capitol and in the marketplace since 1910. It is the only statewide business group that represents retailers and only retailers.

 

 

courant

Editorial:

“Agricultural products have been “genetically modified,” in terms of selective breeding, since prehistoric times. But for the past 20 years, scientists have been able to mechanically transplant genes to achieve the results they want.

Since then, there have been no credible scientific studies showing that genetically modified crops pose any more risk than conventional ones. The American Medical Association says there is no evidence that GMOs pose unique health risks.

Supermarket chains claim that adding another labeling requirement will make food cost more, with no apparent benefit. They have a stake in the matter, but they also have a point.”

Read the full editorial here:

http://articles.courant.com/2012-12-19/news/hc-ed-genetically-altered-food-is-ok-20121219_1_gmos-genetic-modification-usda-organic-label

 

courant

Don’t Label Genetically Engineered Food

By RONALD KLEINMAN | OP-ED The Hartford Courant

May 6, 2013

The recent call for labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients — especially on a state-by-state basis as in Connecticut — is unnecessary, unrealistic and uninformed.

As someone who grew up and attended college in Connecticut, I particularly appreciate the state’s farmland preservation program and the thriving local agriculture, which is being encouraged and protected. And as a pediatrician I know the weight new parents place on every decision affecting their children — from infancy to young adult. I have made it my life’s work to help guide parents through these challenges. This work, however, has been made even more complicated by the barrage of messages, information and misinformation that we all encounter daily. What is most important is to help parents separate myth from fact, and recognize when emotion has trumped hard science.

That is exactly what is at the core of a debate currently playing out in Connecticut over foods produced through biotechnology, also known as genetic engineering or genetic modification. A bill before the General Assembly would require labeling of genetically engineered food.

For more than 15 years, the majority of packaged foods and beverages consumed in the U.S. and dozens of other countries has contained some ingredient that was developed through the use of biotechnology. Biotechnological advances have included improved resistance to plant diseases and reduced reliance on pesticides, resulting in safer, more nutritious food that is able to sustain the growing demands of our world and has helped to protect the environment at the same time. Biotech ingredients are grown by Connecticut farmers, and foods containing biotech ingredients are sold in local stores for local consumption.

Foods enhanced through biotechnology have been extensively studied by scientists in this country and around the globe. The federal Food and Drug Administration has deemed genetically engineered foods safe for infants, children and adults. The FDA recently that all ingredients derived from FDA-approved biotechnology are the same in composition, nutritional value and quality as non-biotechnology derived ingredients. The agency went further by stating that plants with biotech ingredients are no more likely to cause an allergic or harmful reaction than foods from traditionally bred plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture continually work to ensure that there are no ongoing environmental or human health concerns resulting from improving agriculture with the use of biotechnology. Independent expert organizations — including the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization — agree these foods are safe for human consumption – from infants to adults.

Unfortunately, there are some people in Connecticut who prefer to ignore the enormous body of scientific literature in favor of rhetoric and scare tactics in an attempt to force unnecessary and potentially confusing labeling of foods containing biotech ingredients. These individuals seek to play on fear and emotion to convince legislators and the public that biotech foods are harmful, despite overwhelming scientifically derived evidence to the contrary.

Federal agencies such as the FDA, which are experts on issues surrounding labeling, have stated that, because foods derived with biotechnology are no different than any other food, labeling of foods derived by biotech is unwarranted. The FDA does support labeling of some ingredients of foods, such as gluten, for consumers who wish to avoid such foods. This is completely unrelated to whether those foods are produced using modern biotechnology. Consumers can also buy products certified organic, which do not contain biotech ingredients, should they wish to do so.

Foods made with ingredients developed from agricultural biotechnology have been consumed by literally billions of people worldwide for more than 15 years, and there has not been a single documented health problem related to these foods.

Forced labeling would only serve to give false credibility to misinformation, discourage people from eating foods that are perfectly safe and cause havoc in our food supply. Lawmakers in Connecticut need to focus on the facts, stand up against the scare tactics and vote against forced labeling.

Ronald Kleinman, M.D., is chief of the Department of Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital and physician-in-chief at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. He is a consultant for profit and not-for-profit organizations in the food industry.

norwich

Our View: GMO labeling is better if voluntary

Posted Apr 05, 2013 

Norwich, Conn. —

The Legislature’s Public Health Committee this week gave favorable approval to a measure that would require labeling of all food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) — products where the genetic makeup has been altered through genetic engineering.

On the surface, it sounds like a no-brainer.   Who wouldn’t want to know what we’re eating?

The problem, however, is that the bill, if enacted, would only be effective within the borders of Connecticut. Several other states are considering similar legislation, but those measures would have no impact here, and our legislation would have no impact anywhere else.

Stan Sorkin, president of the Connecticut Food Association, contends that if such labeling were necessary — and he and others contend it isn’t — that such a mandate should be issued by the Federal Food and Drug Administration on a national scale, not piecemeal by individual states.

The FDA, however, has denied requests to mandate GMO labeling, saying there is no evidence of the GMO products being unsafe. If there is no public threat, then clearly there is no need for the mandate. But where also is the harm in labeling it as such?
Sorkin is correct in that Connecticut’s large supermarkets, small groceries and other food-related businesses would be unfairly and unnecessarily harmed with higher costs of doing business if such mandates were applied only to them.

Paul Pescatello, president and CEO of Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE), also contends that labeling GMO sends the wrong message to the very bio-science industry that Connecticut is hoping to attract to the state. Labeling, he contends, unfairly implies to the public that there is something to be concerned about when if fact there is overwhelming scientific evidence proving otherwise.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, mistrust of government and corporate America is the bigger threat than any genetically altered product. Such staunch opposition to labeling only feeds into that distrust.

Capitalizing on the scientific evidence, and voluntary labeling, would seem the more appropriate course of action.

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