Senate GMO labeling compromise bill discriminatory, denies Americans their right to know
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday,Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced a deal on legislation related to genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. The new “compromise” bill would preempt state laws requiring clear, on-package labeling of food with GMOs, instead putting into place a discriminatory system reliant on QR codes and toll-free numbers to disclose GMO content.
The bill would set a definition of genetic engineering, or “bioengineering,” that is so narrow that it could exclude labeling for foods made with herbicide-tolerant corn and soybeans, the main GMO crops grown in the United States. In addition, food engineered with new genetic engineering techniques, such as gene editing (CRISPR) and RNAi — already being introduced into new GMO crops including corn, apples and mushrooms — will be excluded from labeling. The bill would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture two years to put this system into place.
Earlier attempts to push through a similar bill in the Senate, aimed at preventing Vermont’s pending legislation from going into effect and other states from labeling genetically modified foods, failed. A similar bill, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, which passed last year in the House, took away states’ rights to label and regulate GMO crops.
Friends of the Earth Food and Technology Program Director Lisa Archer offered the following statement in response:
Friends of the Earth strongly supports mandatory GMO labeling and denounces this sham of a bill, which is a desperate, undemocratic and discriminatory attempt by junk food and chemical corporations to keep Americans in the dark about what we feed our families. Vermont’s labeling law is set to go into effect on July 1, and many major food companies are already labeling GMOs, recognizing that 90 percent of Americans want the GMO labeling and transparency that 64 countries already require. Any members of Congress who support this bill will be on the wrong side of history.
Friends of the Earth is urging consumers to call on their lawmakers to oppose any bills that that would undermine state GMO labeling laws, and to support meaningful, mandatory on-package labeling for GMO foods, including genetically engineered animals (like salmon), produce and processed foods.