The State Senate voted down labeling of genetically modified food last week, but Santa Fe City Councilor Patti Bushee announced at a Roundhouse rally today that she plans to introduce a GMO labeling bill at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
Hannah Snyder, organizer of Food & Water Watch Santa Fe and of today’s rally, announced residents across New Mexico would start making 300 calls to state senators and city councilors to assert their right to know what their food contains.
State Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, had proposed statewide GMO labeling through Senate Bill 18. The bill received a positive reception in the Senate Public Affairs committee, but faltered on the Senate floor through a “bizarre, rarely-used procedure,” Snyder said.
Patricia Pantano, of the Camino de Paz Montessori School and Farm, spoke at the rally about bringing 3 students to speak in committee in favor of GMO labeling. A week later they returned and learned the bill had died.
According to Pantano, 90% of corn, soy, and canola products available for sale in the United States already contain genetically modified organisms. In other words, products made with these foods usually contain genetic material altered by genetic engineering techniques.
Proposition 37 in California, which also proposed GMO labeling, failed in the November 2012 election. Corporate agribusiness spent $46 million to defeat this voter initiative. Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotech company, contributed $8 million to this anti-GMO labeling campaign.
State Sen. John Sapien, D-Sandoval, voted with Senate Republicans to defeat SB 18. According to the Campaign Finance Information System, located on the Secretary of State’s website, the Monsanto Company donated $1,000 to Sapien’s reelection campaign on September 13, 2012.
Bushee said at the rally she has a garden wants to know what goes into her body from food. She hopes to work with the county commission in requiring GMO labeling countywide and “looks forward to the city council debate.”
Farice Rezabek, a licensed massage therapist in Santa Fe, spoke at the rally about how her consumption of GMO foods in the past has given her digestive problems and food allergies. She believes GMO labels would help and protect consumers.
Lucinda Lynch, another rally participant, talked about how GMO and non-GMO foods mix in the environment. Last November, voters in San Juan County in Washington State passed an initiative that bans the growth of genetically modified organisms in the county.
Bushee has asked city attorneys to determine if Santa Fe can implement GMO labeling at the municipal level. Snyder and Bushee agreed to talk more about how Cincinnati recently implemented GMO labeling and the likely fiscal impact in Santa Fe.
Bushee expects GMO labeling will reach “critical mass at the local level.” Snyder told the Santa Fe Reporter about similar rallies in Taos and Albuquerque. Snyder expects opposition from agribusiness but also mentioned 90% of people polled support GMO labeling.
Participants in today's GMO labeling rally, in the above picture, from left to right: Patricia Pantano, Patti Bushee, Lucinda Lynch, Hannah Snyder, and Farice Rezabek.