Assembly panel approves GMO food labeling bill

TRENTON – An Assembly panel advanced legislation Monday that would force food manufacturers to advertise genetically modified foods as such.

The bill, A3192, defines a GMO “as any substance that has been produced, enhanced or otherwise modified through the use of recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid technology, genetic engineering or bioengineering.”

It cleared the Assembly budget committee along party lines.

It would require foods that contain a genetically modified organism, GMO, to come with appropriate labeling. The legislation drew dozens to the Assembly hearing as those in favor argued people have a right to know if they’re eating GMOs, while opponents said marking a product a GMO simply misleads consumers.

Any food products that contain more than 1 percent of GMO would be required to be labeled as such for sale in New Jersey, according to the bill.

The requirement would have sweeping effects, opponents say, considering that roughly 85 percent of soy and corn produced in the U.S. contains GMOs. Additionally, opponents said the mandate would increase costs to food manufacturers because they would have to separate food being sent to New Jersey from food headed to other states.

But the bill’s proponents shot back, arguing that first and foremost, people have a right to know what they are consuming. Proponents conceded that not enough has been done to study the effects of GMOs on a person’s health, but added there’s enough evidence to suggest there could be health concerns.

The committee also released A4238, which would establish requirements for properly closing landfill facilities to ensure “that old dumps that are reopened for proper closure and future reuse, or properly closed sanitary landfill facilities that accept new material, are not operated in ways that are dangerous to the health” of local residents, according to the bill.

The bill cleared the committee following nearly unanimous support from lawmakers. Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-25) abstained from voting.

Assembly panel approves GMO food labeling bill