STATE OF THE UNION 2016
Alaska is the first state in the U.S. to require GMO labeling (for salmon only). The 29th Legislature has introduced two bills: House Bill No. 258 is “an Act prohibiting the sale of a genetically modified fish or fish product.” View the HB 258 HERE. House Joint Resolution No. 28 opposes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of AquaBounty AquAdvantage genetically engineered salmon; urges the United States Congress to enact legislation that requires prominently labeling genetically engineered products with the words “Genetically Modified” on the product’s packaging; and encourages the restoration of wild, native populations of salmon in areas where development has negatively affected salmon. View HJR 28 HERE.
To help Alaska pass these bills, get in touch with GMO Free Alaska HERE.
Sonoma County is working towards becoming a GMO Free Zone. Residents are currently gathering signatures to put a GMO crop cultivation ban initiative on the ballot for November 2016. Volunteer and donate on the GMO Free Sonoma County website. Click HERE.
An ordinance introduced in November 2015 in Costilla County would establish a “Center of Origin” GMO Free Zone of Protection to preserve the county’s unique agricultural products and traditional farming systems. The ordinance is intended to protect the county’s traditional acequia (community irrigation ditch) farmers and their land race heirloom maize varieties that are unique to the Upper Rio Grande watershed. The GMO-Free Zone will help traditional and organic farmers avoid the serious risk of transgenic contamination from nearby genetically engineered (GE) crops, particularly GE corn. Read “Acequias, GMOs and bioregional autonomy | Report on the condition of agriculture in Costilla County, Colorado” Part 01 HERE, Part 02 HERE, Part 03 HERE. We’ll keep you up to date on the outcome.
The legislative session is underway in Hartford. Connecticut was the first state to pass a GMO food labeling law in 2013, but it contained “trigger clauses” – conditions that must be met before CT’s law would go into effect. First, four other Northeastern states must enact legislation. Second, one of the states must border CT. And third, the five Northeastern states must have a combined population of at least 20 million. For 2016, activists are working on removing the trigger clauses so that CT’s GMO food labeling law can go into effect without delay.
Connecticut residents can take action by calling and emailing their legislators to ask them to contact Environment Chairs/leadership in support of removing the trigger clauses so the GMO food labeling law can go into effect immediately. Find your legislators HERE.
Several bills have been introduced in the Florida legislature relating to GMOs. The State Senate and House both have bills to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered raw foods and processed foods made with or derived from genetically engineered ingredients. SB 1700 can be viewed HERE. HB 1369 can be viewed HERE. Additionally, a third bill in the Senate “provides lists of raw agricultural commodities at high risk or potentially at risk for cultivation in a genetically engineered form; requiring the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to publish the lists by a specified date and to update a published list annually.” SB 1708 can be viewed HERE.
To help Florida pass their bills, contact GMO Free Florida HERE.
Hawaiian lawmakers introduced SB2577, which calls for mandatory labeling of “any food or raw agricultural commodity sold in the State that contains a genetically engineered material, or was produced with a genetically engineered material.” Read SB2577 HERE.
To help Hawaiians get their labeling bill passed, contact Label It Hawaii HERE.
After receiving over 625 pages of testimony, Hawaii’s House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee unanimously passed HB2574 (read the bill HERE), a measure to require large-scale, outdoor commercial agricultural businesses to publicly disclose outdoor application of pesticides near schools, healthcare facilities, child care facilities, elder care facilities, and other environmentally-sensitive areas. The bill moves on to the unfriendly Agriculture Committee, where a similar bill was killed last year.
House Bill 2564 is legislation that would create a pilot project in which vegetative buffer zones would be established around five schools that are within a certain radius of commercial agriculture companies that use restricted-use pesticides. Read HB2564 HERE.
House Bill 686 would prohibit propagating, cultivating, or farming genetically engineered fish in state marine waters. Read HB686 HERE.
Contact your State Representatives and ask them to support HB2574, HB2564 and HB686. Find your legislators HERE.
Kauai Bill No. 2614 will regulate lobbying within Kauai County. Kauai is the only County in the State without any law regulating paid lobbyists who by definition are in the business of influencing government. Bill #2614 requires full disclosure, forbids ALL gifts from lobbyists to government officials (including lunch/dinner etc), mandates oral disclosure when lobbyists provide testimony, and prohibits lobbyists from serving on various Boards and Commissions including the Charter Review Commission and the Ethics Commission specifically. Read Kauai Bill No. 2614 HERE.
Kauai residents should send an email with testimony and support, and indicating “Support for Bill #2614” in the subject line, to: CouncilTestimony@kauai.gov
Maine passed their GMO food labeling law back in 2014, but like CT’s law, contained “trigger clauses” – conditions that must be met before Maine’s law would go into effect. First, four other Northeastern states must enact legislation. Second, one of the states must border Maine. And third, the five Northeastern states must have a combined population of at least 20 million. For 2016, lawmakers and activists are working on removing the trigger clauses so that Maine’s GMO food labeling law can go into effect immediately.
To help Maine get their labeling law into effect as soon as possible, contact Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) HERE.
Massachusetts’ 189th legislature has introduced Bill H.3242 – the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling act. Read H.3242 HERE.
To help support Massachusetts’ labeling law, contact GMO Free Massachusetts HERE.
Missouri’s 98th General Assembly has introduced HB 1510, which would require that all GMO food and food products be labeled. Read HB 1510 HERE.
To help Missouri get their labeling law passed, get in touch with GMO Free Missouri HERE.
House Bill 1674, “An act requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods” is a pending law that will require the labeling of genetically engineered or genetically modified organisms sold in New Hampshire. HB1674 would bring New Hampshire in line with other New England states that have passed, or are working on, similar legislation. Read HB1674 HERE.
To help New Hampshire pass a GMO food labeling law, visit New Hampshire Right to Know HERE. (Update February 10, 2016: The NH House of Representatives voted today 239 to 122 against. The bill is now dead.)
In New Jersey, Senate Bill No. 238 has been introduced for the 217th Legislature. SB 238 requires labeling of foods containing genetically modified material. To read SB 238, click HERE.
To help New Jersey pass their GMO food labeling law, contact GMO Free NJ HERE.
A bill in the New York State Assembly, A5116, has been referred to the Agriculture Committee. The bill “enacts provisions imposing a five year moratorium on the planting and growing of genetically modified crops in New York State and the use of a marketing plan to promote New York state agricultural products; defines “genetically modified crops”; exempts such genetically modified crops planted and grown for the sole purpose of conducting research and not for sale.” Read A5116 HERE. Bills for mandatory GMO food labeling are also in committee. Read Senate Bill S485B HERE. Read Assembly Bill A617B HERE.
To help move the GMO moratorium bill forward, New Yorkers should contact their Assemblymember directly and ask them to support Bill A5116. Find your Assemblymember HERE.
To help move the GMO food labeling bill forward, contact GMO Free NY HERE.
Both Jackson County and Josephine County were successful in passing their GMO crop cultivation bans at the ballots in May of 2014, potentially realizing a GMO Free Zone in the Rogue Valley – the largest GMO Free Zone in the United States. But both counties were sued by GMO farmers to have the laws overturned. Jackson County recently won their case, but Josephine County has just begun theirs. To help Josephine County defend their win, support Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families and donate to their legal defense fund HERE.
Repeal Oregon’s “Monsanto Protection Act”: In 2013, Oregon State Legislature passed Senate Bill 863 (also known as the Oregon Monsanto Protection Act) as part of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s “grand bargain,” pre-empting any local control of agricultural seed or product of seed. It stripped away local governments’ right to protect farmers growing non-GMO crops from contamination by genetically engineered crops. Recently-introduced House Bill 4122 would return the right of determination back to local governments. Send an email to Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney urging them to pass HB 4122, the Transgenic Contamination Prevention Bill. Click HERE. (Update February 20, 2016: HB 4122 was not passed but was re-written. In a strange twist, the current iteration of HB 4122 will label genetically engineered fish. Learn more and take action HERE)
Lawmakers in Rhode Island are currently working on three GMO-related bills. HB 7255 would require all businesses grossing more than $500,000 in annual sales to post signs within the business informing consumers that all of their products contain GMO ingredients unless otherwise labeled. Read HB 7255 HERE. HB 7256 would require that all milk and milk products that come from genetically engineered animals be labeled, as well as any milk product that contains genetically engineered ingredients. Read HB 7256 HERE. The third bill under consideration, HB 7274, would require all GMO products sold in the state be labeled by January 1, 2017. Read HB 7274 HERE.
To help Rhode Island pass these laws, contact Right to Know RI HERE.
Vermont was the third state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling law, but the first to do so without any trigger clauses (see CT and ME). VT’s GMO labeling law, Act 120, is set to go into effect on July 01, 2016, despite the state being in the midst of battling a lawsuit initiated by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an industry trade association seeking to overturn VT’s law. The GMA has launched a multi-faceted attack, attempting to preempt VT’s law and to prevent any future states from enacting mandatory GMO labeling laws. The GMA failed to get Congress to enact federal legislation in their favor during the fall of 2015, but are currently working with government regulators and politicians to pass legislation beneficial to their corporate membership.
Help Vermont by taking action to stop the advances of the GMA on the federal level. Take action HERE.
Is there legislation happening in your state at the state, county or city level that isn’t listed here? Please let us know at email@example.com