Congress Backs Big Food Over Consumers; President Should Veto GMO Anti-Labeling Law

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 14, 2016
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (415) 944-7350

Today’s vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a law that allows food companies to avoid clearly labeling foods made with genetically engineered ingredients cheats consumers out of information they are entitled to have, and should be vetoed by President Obama, according to the consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know.

The measure passed the House in a 306 to 117 vote on Thursday.  The Senate approved the measure on July 7 after months of negotiations with a range of food industry players. It nullifies a mandatory GMO labeling law that took effect in Vermont on July 1, and prevents any other state from enacting its own mandatory labeling law.  Rather than requiring food makers to state the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in plain English, as the Vermont law provides, the new federal law would allow food companies instead to use codes, or to offer phone numbers or website addresses that consumers would need to access for the information.

“This bill is a sweetheart deal for the food and agrichemical industries, who want to keep consumers guessing about the contents of their food,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “There are legitimate questions about the health and environmental risks genetically engineered crops, including the glyphosate herbicide that many are doused with. President Obama should veto this legislation and champion the consumer’s right to know what’s in our food,” Ruskin said.

Backers have said the bill is supported by leading organic industry players such as the Organic Trade Association, and organizations such as the Environmental Working Group and Just Label It have lauded Sen. Debbie Stabenow, one of the architects of the anti-GMO labeling bill. But those organizations do not speak for the overwhelming majority of consumers who polls have shown want clear, on-label language regarding genetically engineered foods.

The bill contains numerous loopholes that would likely allow food companies to avoid even the codes or website links for countless food products.

U.S. Right to Know  is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.


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