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Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R- Essex, Morris, Passaic) is co-sponsor of legislation that will enable consumers to make informed choices about purchasing foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The legislation (A1359) was introduced last month before the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.
DeCroce who sponsored a similar bill in the last legislative session, says approval of the bill will place New Jersey among the vanguard of more than 20 other states that are also working on legislation to require GMO labeling.
“In the absence of the federal government’s willingness to act on GMO labeling, it’s up to the states to decide if consumers should be informed about what’s in the food they eat and if they want to buy foods containing GMOs,” said DeCroce.
According to the Huffington Post and other sources, currently only Connecticut and Maine have laws requiring labels for genetically modified food. But those requirements won't kick in until other states adopt their own rules. Sources says more than two dozen states are entertaining GMO labeling legislation.
IT’S A MATTER OF CHOICE
DeCroce said she is neither denigrating nor supporting GMO products, but said since GMOs are so prevalent in our food chain, it’s important for people to have information that will guide their purchasing decisions.
“I think people have the right to know what’s in the foods that they put on the dinner table,” said DeCroce. “Food labeling now requires people to know how much sugar, fat and cholesterol is in their foods, but they have no idea if the corn in the cereal they eat for breakfast has been genetically altered. I believe they should have that information.”
According to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, 70 percent of processed foods contain at least one ingredient made or derived from genetically modified crops. The Grocery Manufacturers Association puts the number between 70 and 80 percent.
Under the bill, the failure to label a genetically modified food product constitutes misbranding in violation of pre-existing food and drug labeling law, except that there would be a penalty of $200 for a first offense, $400 for a second offense, and $1,000 for any third or subsequent offense.
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