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Testimony before Massachusetts Joint Public Health committee on GE labeling

CU supports mandatory labeling of GE foods and so supports H1936, H2037 and H2093.

Dear Committee members,

Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony in support of H1936, H2037, and H2093, all bills that would require the labeling of food and food products derived from genetically engineered (GE) organisms. My name is Michael Hansen and I am a biologist at Consumers Union (CU), the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. I have worked on the issue of genetically engineered foods for more than 20 years and have been involved in the decisions/debate about these foods at the state, national and international levels.

There is global agreement that genetic engineering is different than conventional breeding and that safety assessments should be completed for all GE foods prior to marketing. The human safety problems that may arise include introduction of new allergens or increased levels of naturally occurring allergens, of plant toxins, and changes in nutrition. There may also be unintended effects. Codex Alimentarius, the food safety standards organization of the United Nations, developed a number of documents, including a Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants (CAC/GL 45, 2003); there are separate Guidelines for GE animals (CAC/GL 68, 2008) and GE microorganisms (CAC/GL 46, 2003), as well.