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Rep. DeFazio, Lawmakers Condemn Dangerous Industry-Driven Food Labeling Bill

Jul 22, 2015
Press Release
So-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” would overturn state and local laws requiring GMO labeling, denies consumers their right to know what’s in their food

WASHINGTON—Today, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Peter Welch (D-VT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) condemned the industry-driven Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, legislation that would overturn state laws requiring labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and deny consumers the right to know what is in the food they consume. 

Although 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of food containing GMOs, there is no federal policy in place to label such foods. Three states—Vermont, Maine and Connecticut—have passed laws requiring GMO labeling, and over 30 states have considered similar legislation.

The bill would preempt states’ laws on GMO labeling and codify the current broken system of voluntary labeling. In addition, the bill would create even more confusion in the marketplace by requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow misleading ‘natural’ claims on food products containing GMOs.

Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

In February, Representative DeFazio introduced H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act. The legislation would require FDA to set a mandatory labeling system for foods that contain GMOs. In addition, any product that contains GMOs would be prohibited from using the label ‘natural’ on its packaging. 

“H.R. 1599 is a full-scale attack on consumer’s rights,” said Rep. DeFazio. “Americans deserve the opportunity to make informed decisions about the food they eat and what they feed their families—an opportunity that China, Russia, and Kazakhstan allow their citizens, but not the United States. A truly free market would allow such information to be disclosed to consumers, and yet here we are making it more difficult and confusing for consumers.”

“Consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they eat, especially for parents feeding their young children,” said Rep. Lowey. “Scientists don’t know the impact genetically engineered (GE)  foods may have on child development, but studies have raised serious concern about the levels of allergens and chemicals involved in manufacturing GE foods and their impact on public health. That’s why I offered an amendment that would allow states with GE labeling regulations to continue to label infant formula and foods intended for children under the age of two. Sadly, my amendment was refused. For the sake of our children’s health, I call on Congress to oppose H.R. 1599 and put the information in the hands of the consumers.”

“American families deserve to know what they are eating and feeding to their children,” said Rep. DeLauro. “The FDA already requires clear labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and food processes. GMOs should be no different. My home state of Connecticut has already passed GMO labeling standards, which are designed to help families make informed decisions about the food they eat. We cannot reverse all the gains we have made. Consumers have a right to know.”

“Americans have a right to know what is in their food and how it is grown,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “H.R. 1599 is an egregious federal overreach that would undo important state and local efforts to inform consumers. Instead of undermining this progress, Congress should require mandatory GMO labeling at the federal level and pass the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.”

“The issue with this legislation is not whether GMOs are safe.  The issue is whether consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they are feeding their families,” Rep. Welch said. “If Monsanto is so proud of its product, then why on earth is it waging an all-out war to hide it from families who simply want to know what’s in their food?  The message to consumers in this bill is very clear:  It’s none of your business.”

"The DARK Act is just what Big Food and Monsanto want," Rep. Pingree said.  "But nine out of ten consumers say they support GMO labeling, so it sure isn't what the public wants.  This is really an anti-consumer, anti-right-to-know bill that would prevent families from making intelligent choices about whether or not they want to buy food with GMO ingredients.  It takes choices away from consumers and rights away from states and Congress should reject it."

“Almost 90% of the American people want to know what's in their food,” said Rep. Gabbard.“The DARK Act would roll back steps taken by a majority of states and counties, including communities in Hawai'i, to better inform people about the ingredients in the food they eat. This bill takes away a basic consumer right for people to know what's in their food, and undermines local control. This bill is bad for transparency, consumer rights, and democracy, and should be defeated."

“In New Hampshire and across the country, Americans are speaking up and demanding greater transparency about how their food is made and grown.  I am a firm believer that Granite Staters deserve the information necessary to make informed decisions about the food they feed their families,” said Rep. Kuster. “Unfortunately, the DARK Act will preempt existing state laws regarding GMO labeling and limit consumer transparency of food ingredients. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill when it comes to the floor.”