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Don’t weaken GMO labeling

American consumers have the right—and overwhelmingly want—to know what’s in their food

Published: June 26, 2015 12:30 PM

At Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, we strongly support labels that give consumers valuable, meaningful information about the products they purchase—whether it’s for food, cars, or any other product.

For more than 20 years, we’ve supported the labeling of genetically engineered foods, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. And consumers agree with us about GMO labeling. Survey after survey, including our own, has shown that more than 90 percent of consumers want GMO foods to be labeled accordingly. Some 64 countries currently require GMO labeling, and several states, including Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont, have passed legislation requiring GMO labeling. (Share your thoughts about GMOs by leaving a comment below.)

But legislation currently moving through Congress would bring these and any future efforts to an end by prohibiting GMO labeling requirements at the local, state, and federal level. The misleadingly named Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, introduced by Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) would also make current federal voluntary labeling policy permanent, even though these guidelines have not produced a GMO-labeled product in their 15-year history.

​And that's not all. A new draft version of this anti-consumer legislation that is being discussed in the House of Representatives is far more sweeping, also barring states and local communities from regulating genetically modified crops in other ways. Several counties in California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington have measures in place that restrict where GMO crops can be grown. The bill would nullify these measures.

Read our report "GMO Foods: What You Need to Know" to learn more about GMOs. And visit our Food Safety & Sustainability Guide.

Moreover, this new version would also further prevent businesses from creating voluntary labels for non-engineered products that are more stringent than a yet-to-be-determined U.S. Department of Agriculture standard. For example, the Non-GMO Project Verified seal (shown) which now appears on thousands of products, establishes a threshold of GMO contamination (0.9 percent). This legislation, however, could potentially force such​ meaningful non-GMO labeling programs to weaken their standards.

Consumers Union strongly opposes this legislation and has called on lawmakers repeatedly to reject it. In letters to Congress, we have also voiced support for other legislative efforts, such as the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act introduced by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) that would require genetically engineered foods to be labeled and recognize consumers’ right to know what they’re buying.

And we need your help with GMO labeling. Consumers Union encourages you to make your voice heard and share your support for GMO labeling with your members of Congress. Visit NotInMyFood.org to take action and send Congress the message that you want, and have the right, to know what’s in you food.

GMO labels make good sense



Marta Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports, recently wrote about GMOs on CNN.com. Here's an excerpt from her commentary, “GMO Labels Make Good Sense.”


"Recently, at my neighborhood supermarket, I spotted a young mom pushing a cart with two children and a week's worth of groceries. I watched as she checked each item's label carefully before putting it into her cart. Was she looking for peanuts that could send her kids to the emergency room, checking the nutritional content to make sure they get enough vitamin D, or seeing if there were additives or sweeteners she'd rather have them avoid?


"It could have been any of those reasons or a dozen more. Everyone deserves to know what's in their food so they can make informed decisions about what to feed themselves and their families."


This feature is part of a regular series by Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. The nonprofit organization advocates for product safety, financial reform, safer food, health reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


Read past installments of our Policy & Action feature.


 

 



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