Unlike most other developed countries— currently 64 countries have laws mandating labeling GMO foods, including the 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China—the U.S. has none. Yet polls have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans—over 90% in most polls—believe GMO foods should be labeled. Of those 64 countries that mandate labeling GM foods, many, including the European Union, Russia, Japan and even China, ban them outright.
In the spring of 2000, the FDA made the announcement that labeling of GE foods would remain voluntary, even though there was no indication that any company would voluntarily label GE foods. And in the 12 years since, none have. Companies who have eliminated GE ingredients to add “NON-GMO” labels to their products have faced tight regulations and litigation challenges from industry, while the FDA allows other companies to continue to use GE ingredients without acknowledgement.
In 2011, The Center for Food Safety submitted a formal legal petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on behalf of over 650 companies and organizations demanding that the FDA require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. In 2014, individual states, such as Vermont, began taking action.
Forward to 2016: Dan Charles, NPR’s food and agriculture correspondent recently stated: “After years of bitter debate and legislative stalemate over the labeling of genetically modified ingredients, a compromise proposal sailed through Congress in breathtaking speed over the past three weeks.” The House of Representative passed the measure on Thursday, July 14 with solid support from both Democrats and Republicans. It now goes to the White House, where the White House says President Obama is expected to sign it. This would nullify a Vermont GMO labeling law that kicked in on July 1, 2016.
Within a few years, consumers will be able to find out whether any food contains GMO ingredients, but they won’t necessarily see that information on the package. Food companies will not be required to print the information on the package labels. Instead, consumers may have to scan a “QR code” found in the aisles of grocery stores, or the food labels may carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smart phones that will indicate whether the food contains genetically modified ingredients. The Department of Agriculture will have two years to write the rules. The passage of this bill is a pretty big slap in the face to the poor, elderly, & disenfranchised. Actually, it’s a big slap in the face to everyone except the food companies. It’s quite obvious that the sudden push by both parties in Congress to present an agreed upon bill was to squash Vermont’s GMO labeling law.
There is also another elephant in the house regarding the labeling rules. The law leaves many details of the new labeling scheme to be worked out by the Department of Agriculture. These include, for instance, whether refined products like soy oil or sugar from beets will need to be labeled. While they are made from GMO crops, the final product doesn’t contain any genetically modified material, such as proteins or DNA.
As the Alliance for Natural Health stated: “The GMO Labeling Bill Is A Pen Stroke Away From Becoming Law.” DON’T DELAY: Before the president signs this bill, please contact your Senators and the White House and tell them you oppose this legislation. Texts and faxes to your senators and representatives, followed up by a phone call, are the best ways for making your voice heard. LET THE WHITE HOUSE KNOW THAT AMERICANS DO NOT WANT THIS LAW AS IT IS WRITTEN AND REQUEST THAT THE PRESIDENT NOT SIGN IT.
As this newsletter goes out, the President has not yet signed the bill. It is imperative that citizens contact their Senators and the White House before the clock runs out and it becomes a law. ACT NOW! And…support the endeavors of the Sunshine Health Freedom Fund’s efforts to help us keep our freedoms free.