by Maureen Mahoney

Today, Michael K. Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist at Consumers Union, spoke at a public hearing in support of a pending New York State bill that would require food manufacturers to label products that are genetically engineered (GE). The hearing, organized by the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Consumer Affairs, was held at Lehman College in Bronx, NY.  Dr. Hansen’s testimony presented evidence linking GE foods to health problems. A podcast of the hearing is available here.

Americans have expressed almost universal support for labeling genetically engineered ingredients.   In addition to several national polls, including this one by Consumers Union, more than 90 percent of Americans favored labeling of GE foods.  A recent New York Times poll showed the same result and revealed deep concern among Americans about genetically engineered materials and their impact on public health and the environment in particular.

Around 75 percent of those polled by the Times said that they were worried about the use of genetically engineered materials in food products. Of those who were concerned, 37 percent explained that they feared a possible connection between genetically engineered foods and health problems such as cancer or allergies, and 13 percent expressed uneasiness over the potential environmental effects.

New York State’s decision on GE labeling is especially important because of provisions of GE labeling laws in Connecticut and Maine. Connecticut has already passed a labeling law, and Maine’s law has been ratified by the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature. Both, however, require four other states to pass similar laws before theirs goes into effect.  State lawmakers in Connecticut this week urged their colleagues in neighboring New York to pass its GE labeling bill.

Consumers Union is also backing a federal law that would ensure that grocery store products include clearly labeled information about GE foods. To pass this law, however, we need your support. Please tell your Senators and Representatives that you demand labeling of GE foods!