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Mount Vernon Activists Urge State Lawmakers To Pass GMO Labeling Law

Mount Vernon activists , from left, Reyna Gonzalez, Mother Khoshhali and Vinny Carson demonstrate in Albany recently to support a bill which would require the labeling of genetically engineered or modified foods. Photo Credit: Food & Water Watch
Mother Knoshhali, left, and Reyna Gonzalez, both Mount Vernon residents, present a petition supporting the labeling of GMO foods to state Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow in Albany. Photo Credit: Food & Water Watch

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- A coalition of Mount Vernon residents have petitioned their state representative asking him to support a bill that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The residents rallied in Albany on Friday, April 8, and then delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the offices of Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow.

If enacted into law, the Assembly bill would give consumers critical information about what’s in food and how it’s produced, petitioners said.

It is currently facing a vote in the Legislature’s Codes Committee and has 73 co-sponsors in the state Assembly, they said.

Mother Knoshhali, a holistic doctor and herbalist, said she believed that GMOs must be labeled “because customers have to know…they need to be labeled because it is the choice of the consumer.”

Knoshhali owns Sadhana Tea House and Wellness Center in Mount Vernon.

Said Reyna Gonzalez, a Mount Vernon mother: “As a consumer I feel I have the right to know what is going into my body and the bodies of my family.”

Organizers of the petition claimed that “an overwhelming majority of Americans” want GMO labeling.

Vermont, Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO labeling laws, petitioners said.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based consumer rights group, Food & Water Watch, the Senate has blocked legislation introduced by Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, that would halt state efforts to label GMOs.

If passed, the group says, the bill would have “undermined democratically enacted state laws that give consumers the right to know what’s in our food.”

U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, New York Democrats, opposed Roberts' bill, the group said.

Shortly after the bill’s defeat, U.S. Food Company General Mills announced that it would voluntarily label all products sold in the U.S. that contain genetically engineered ingredients, the group said.

Other companies such as Mars, Kellogg’s and ConAgra also promised to label GMO ingredients, the group said.

“We must call on our elected officials to stand up for the people and our right to know what is in our food,” said Food & Water Watch organizer Ashleigh McGuire.

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