According to the Environmental Working Group, new survey data emphasizes what polls by Washington Post, New York Times and Consumer Reports have been showing for years: 9 of every 10 Americans want genetically engineered foods, or “GMOs,” to be labeled. Most recently, the demands for labeling of GMO’s in the US were stimulated even further when the prestigious International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a “probable carcinogen.”
Despite these consumer demands, bill H.R. 1599, ironically named the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, passed in the House of Representatives on July 23 of this year and now heads to the Senate. Sponsored by Mike Pompeo, Representative for Kansas’s 4th congressional district, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama, this bill would block states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from labeling foods that contain GMO’s. It would also allow food companies to continue to describe products containing GMO ingredients as “natural.” Environmental and consumer rights organizations have condemned the bill because it would keep consumers in the dark even though a vast majority of Americans support the right to know whether their food contains GMOs.
“Passage of this bill is an attempt by Monsanto and its agribusiness cronies to crush the democratic decision-making of tens of millions of Americans. Corporate influence has won and the voice of the people has been ignored,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “We remain confident that the Senate will preserve the rights of Americans and stand up for local democracy.”
Today, 64 countries accounting for 40% of the world’s population require labeling; including: the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China. In the United States, more than 70 bills have been introduced in over 30 states proposing the labeling of GMO’s. In 2013, Connecticut and Maine passed labeling laws containing provisions stating that they can’t be implemented unless border states approve similar labeling laws. Most recently, Vermont passed a labeling bill free of any provisions that will go into effect in 2016.
Here in New Jersey, Bill S 91 was introduced in January 2014 and has 14 co-sponsors. According to the bill “Every genetically modified food product that is offered for sale in the State shall contain a label indicating that the product contains genetically modified material. The information shall be displayed in a manner that is conspicuous and easily understandable to consumers.” Companion bill, A1359, was introduced mid-January, and has 15 sponsors.
If H.R. 1599 is signed into law, all local state laws and proposed bills would be eliminated.
Today, more than sixty genetically modified crops have been approved for US food and feed supplies and there are many awaiting approval at the USDA. It’s estimated that 80% of processed food in the US contain GMO’s. Anti GMO’s activists argue that GMO’s are unhealthy; create dangerous side effects and haven’t been proven nontoxic. No long-term human studies on GMO safety have been conducted, and the FDA does not require safety assessments of genetically engineered foods or run its own independent safety tests. Additionally, many of the claims touting the need for GMO’s have since been debunked.
Whatever your views on GMOs, there is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to preempt state laws. Americans want and deserve the same right to know as citizens in 64 other nations that require GMO labeling.