As voters in Washington hand in their ballots today to determine the fate of GMO labeling in their state, the issue of labeling genetically modified organisms or GMOs, as they’re commonly known, is heating up in New Hampshire. This Thursday, the New Hampshire House Environment and Agriculture committee will vote on a similar bill, HB 660, to require GMO labeling in the Granite state.
Consumer support for GMO labeling in the U.S. is wildly popular, according to the recent political opinion survey of New Hampshire registered voters on GMO food labeling conducted by The Mellman Group on behalf of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots movement of more than 650,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to creating a more sustainable future for farmers and the environment.
According to pollster Mark Mellman, “The survey found nearly all Democrats (93% favor, 2% oppose), Independents (90% favor, 5% oppose) and Republicans (89% favor, 5% oppose) in favor of labeling in the state of New Hampshire. The study also revealed that support for labeling is robust and arguments against it have little sway.
“These statewide polling results are absolutely consistent with national polling data showing that an overwhelming majority of citizens want the right to know what is in our foods. When is the last time that 90% of NH citizens agreed on anything?”, said Gary Hirshberg, Founder of Stonyfield Farm and Chairman and Founding Partner of Just Label It. “The only question now is whether our citizen legislators will support individual citizens rights over those of a handful of chemical corporations who are trying to protect their profits.”
“The numbers speak for themselves,” says Janet Wilkinson, NOFA-NH Executive Director. “The people of New Hampshire overwhelmingly support GMO labeling. We hope the House Environment and Agriculture Committee members consider this new information when they vote on HB 660 this Thursday.”
Thursday’s vote in the New Hampshire House will take place only days after an important vote in Washington state, where voters are casting their ballots in the hopes to pass the first successful ballot initiative that would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the U.S.
Last year in California, Prop 37, a popular ballot initiative, failed narrowly by a vote of 48.6% to 51.4% after an onslaught of $46 million in negative ads from the opposition.
The citizen-led movement to label GMOs is only picking up steam. For the second time in twelve months, voters from California to Washington will have gone to the polls in an effort to overcome significant resistance from giant chemical and junk food companies who fear labeling, despite the fact that they already label their products in 64 other countries around the world. This time around, companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Pepsi, Kellogg’s and General Mills have spent $22 million in Washington, making it the most amount of money to defeat a ballot initiative ever spent in the state’s history.
However, this year, twenty-six states, from Hawaii to Maine and Alaska to New Hampshire, have introduced legislation or ballot initiatives to pass GMO labeling, with the states of Maine and Connecticut passing legislation that goes into effect once four other states pass similar bills. Experts agree, no matter what the vote determines in Washington, the democratic movement for labeling will only continue.
“In a democracy, citizens have rights and nothing is more fundamental than the right to know what’s in the food you eat and feed your family,” said Dave Murphy, Founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now! “All we’re asking for is a simple label, something that 64 other countries around the world already require to ensure openness and transparency in our food supply. Without labels there is no free market in our food supply.”
As the new poll commissioned by Food Democracy Now! proves, the movement to label genetically engineered foods has near unanimous support, including a growing number of farmers who believe labeling genetically engineered foods makes sense for them and their customers .
“Customers are increasingly asking about how I grow our food at farmers markets,” says Earl Tuson, who farms at Red Manse Farm in Loudon, NH. “People want to know about my growing practices and I’m happy to tell them. They want to know about what is in their food so that they can make informed choices about their diet and that of their family, and they should have the right to do so. ”
While the final vote tally remain to be counted in Washington state, the voters of New Hampshire have spoken loud and clear. The only question that remains is, will their elected officials listen to the will of the people?