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Policy

GMOs
Pesticides in paradise: Hawaii's spike in birth defects puts focus on GM crops
Christopher Pala – The Guardian
Local doctors are in the eye of a storm swirling for the past three years over whether corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides is a source of prosperity, as companies claim, or of birth defects and illnesses

A public hearing on the bill to require labeling of most foods containing GMOs sold in Massachusetts, H. 3242, will be held by the state legislature’s Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture on September 22, 2015 at 1pm. The fact that we have 154 legislative sponsors, including a majority of both houses, among the members of a 200-person legislature seems to have persuaded the legislative leadership on Beacon Hill that this is a popular cause. They have given us the largest room in the State House, Gardner Auditorium, for the hearing! That is the hall in the basement of the State House, and it seats 600. We need to fill all those seats with labeling supporters like YOU!

The bill to require labeling of most foods containing GMOs sold in Massachusetts, H. 3242, will be heard by the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on September 22, 2015 at 1pm. The fact that we have 154 legislative sponsors among the members of a 200-person legislature (both houses!) seems to have persuaded the powers that be on Beacon Hill that this is a popular cause. They have given us Gardner Auditorium for the hearing, the largest room available to the legislature. That is the hall in the basement of the State House which seats 600.

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of all antibiotics administered in the US are used as feed or water additives for pigs, poultry and cattle for the non-therapeutic purposes of growth promotion and general prevention of disease. Many doctors and medical associations have expressed concern that this widespread use of antibiotics in livestock production – not for promotion of health but simply to encourage faster growth – is a dangerous practice.

As you no doubt have heard, organic food is continuing to enjoy a spectacular growth in the American marketplace. It went up over 11% last year and now accounts for more than 5% of the US food market. Organic products have been called the “fastest-growing” consumer food trend in modern history.

Recently we have received calls and emails from people concerned that we are sponsoring an on-farm workshop on how to slaughter and butcher a pig. We would like to offer our thoughts on this topic and explain how such education events are appropriate and valuable.

Many NOFA/Mass members responded to our Action Alert last month and contacted their legislators to ask them to co-sponsor HD 369, the new GMO labeling bill (the number may change soon as it goes from a House Docket number to a House Bill number). You will be pleased to hear that your work, plus that of the other members of our coalition – MASSPIRG, MoveOn.org, and MassRight2KnowGMO, has resulted in a majority of members of the Massachusetts Legislature, both House and Senate, having cosponsored the bill!

While much of our policy agenda requires action at higher levels – carbon policy, National Organic Program standards and procedures, use of antibiotics in livestock production, etc. – much is also focused at the state level. With the federal changeover in party control of the U. S. Senate, many food and farming advocates are expecting little progress in Washington this year (if not some defensive battles to hold on to what we have) and are looking for state governments to be where positive action is possible.

In September 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released several revised sections of proposed food safety regulations originally proposed in early January 2013:

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