Bill Requiring Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Introduced

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U.S. Capitol building

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) this week introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, bipartisan legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat.

“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Boxer stated in a press release. “This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen, and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more — not less — information about the food they buy.”

A similar Calfornia state measure on labeling GE foods, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), was rejected by California voters this past November. Most Americans consume GE foods on a daily basis, as two extremely common ingredients, corn and soybeans, are frequently produced from GE seed. However, both Boxer and DeFazio claim widespread support for labeling.

“When American families purchase food, they deserve to know if that food was genetically engineered in a laboratory,” DeFazio said in the press release. “This legislation is supported by consumer’s rights advocates, family farms, environmental organizations, and businesses, and it allows consumers to make an informed choice.”

The bipartisan legislation would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards. 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.

The FDA has long opposed the mandatory labeling of GMO foods because it agrees with a scientific consensus that these foods pose no new risk to human health or the environment. The American Medical Association has declared that such labeling is completely unnecessary. Currently, the AMA noted, if consumers want to make sure they are not consuming GMOs, they can purchase foods labeled organic.

Cosponsors of the Senate bill are Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), James Moran (D-VA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Don Young (R-AK), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Gerry Connolly (DVA), George Miller (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Ann Kuster (D-NH) are cosponsors of the House bill.

David Eddy is editor of American/Western Fruit Grower, a Meister Media Worldwide publication.

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14 comments on “Bill Requiring Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Introduced

  1. vicky rey

    Finally someone in office with common sense. THIS great country and we continue to place garbage in food. GMO labeling hurray. Monsanto and their genetically engineered crops are destroying our food sources. I want to know what is in my food!!!!!!

  2. Sharon Schmuhl

    This "defeated" bill should not be introduced again at the taxpayers money. GMO food has been consumed for decades; this appears to be another money grabbing issue for those involved. Nothing is gained. This bill could hardly be called "bipartisan". What do those two (R) want from the rest of the cosponsors? How much foreign grown food is consumed by these people that "need/want" to know what is in their food? Good luck on that one!

  3. Keith Christensen

    In California, voters passed a proposition 65 several years ago. This requires a warning wherever a carcinogen might be present. As a result, every building or facility has a plaque or sticker warning that carcinogens may be present. I think we will see a generic statement on future labels that this package may contain some GMO ingredients. There will be compliance with the law but it won't be useful information to anyone.

  4. Cathy Brown

    Sure hope someone gets this labeling through, I sure don't want to be eating it. SAFE! sure! On testing with rats in three generations they are STERILE. What are we doing to our children? Playing with our food and creating animals with genetic changes is dangerous. What kind of monster is next? Pollen drifts, so soon all will be contaminated, then what?????

  5. Tom

    Consumers need to be able to vote with their wallets, and that only works with complete information. I'm all for GMO labeling. People who want it can buy it, those that don't can opt out. What's more American than a freedom like that?

  6. Michelle W.

    This should not even get debated. If the GMO foods is so safe why not label it. We put sugar in foods we label that. Why not GMO's? Why because they know that when it is labeled that way people will stop buying it. That's what happened in England. If you don't believe it is harmfull,check out some of the studies that are out there. They scare me to death, you are dealing with our genetics. Buy Organic until they label.

  7. Practical thinker

    This is really laughable. "Americans deserve to know if their food was engineered in a lab" What a moron. I'm so tired of the scare tactics. In no way does Gmo mean that it isn't natural. It's a manual selection of the best plant characteristics. It could be achieved through old fashioned plant breeding, but would take decades. The whole organic and anti GMO movement is hard to understand. People join up and fight for causes they know little about. Most biologists and chemists agree that there is nothing about organic or non-GMO foods that makes them safer or more nitricious, but it's clear that they yield less and cost more. Extra labeling and segregation of conventional foods will add expense and accomplish nothing. I hope this falls on its face. But who knows, the last decade is proof that "stupid" can often prevail!

  8. Matt

    I never thought the day would come when I would support a bill a Democrat introduced. I am 100% behind a labeling law. It affect NO ONE and adds ZERO cost to companies. They already LABEL the product with nutritional and ingredient information. Adding a * after an ingredient and then adding "* Maybe be Genetically Engineered" Adds ZERO cost to the product. If consumers don't care, they will by the product anyway. My guess is the large companies are terrified of consumers choosing NOT to purchase foods with GE ingredients. No exemptions for McDonalds or other fast food companies either.

  9. Neil

    It is completely misleading to say that "Most Americans consume GE foods on a daily basis…". That is an overstatement of the fact. It is true that Americans may use corn oil or soybean oil in their cooking or consume fructose syrup from corn in some product that is derived from a GE corn or soybean plant. However, none of these products contains the protein that was coded from a GE expressed gene, and that is a distinction that must be recognized and acknowledged. Americans are NOT consuming genetically engineered protein, and therefore, there is absolutely no risk whatsoever to the public. The concerns raised over GE crop labelling are only coming from individuals who do not understand science. Ignorance always breeds fear.

  10. Old Guy

    Several pieces of complete false hood posted on here, such as rats going sterile after eating GMO crops. Pure balderdash. Nature has a good issue on plant biotechnology. This link is good until next Wednesday, May 8. Use it an learn. An excerpt: The analyst who spoke of an uninformed public may have been correct in 1993, but such a claim no longer applies. People are positively swimming in information about GM technologies. Much of it is wrong — on both sides of the debate. But a lot of this incorrect information is sophisticated, backed by legitimate-sounding research and written with certitude. With GM crops, a good gauge of a statement’s fallacy is the conviction with which it is delivered.

  11. Irrigation

    Good grief. Here we go again. It will simply cost the farmers more money. I really don't care for others wanting to jam the way they eat down my throat. If they don't want GMO food, fine. Don't buy it. I often avoid GMO food, but that is MY choice, and I do not want to jam it down everyone else's throat. Not to mention there aren't (m)any studies that really show GMO's are bad. Folks need to wake up and see what is really going on. This is pure absurdity. As food prices keep going up, people will complain about that, not realizing they are doing it to themselves. Oh yes, and for those of you who said it "it won't cost anybody anything," that is totally wrong. When you make statement's like that, it tells everybody else that you are grasping at straws and don't have a clue. In the end that does work out well, though.

  12. Leda Muth

    The bottom line is that people have the right to make the decision on whether to buy and consume GMO foods. Not much is known about long-term GMO food consumption. Those who believe that GMO food is completely safe for long-term use should have no problem in labeling it. Wanting to keep people in the dark is a huge red flag!

  13. Chris Sawyer

    It's not all about the human body… what about the fact that the corn rootworm has evolved to be Bt resistant…Bt is one of the main controls that Organic farmers use for everyday control of lepidoptera species.. now becoming more and more ineffective. Or the millions of gallons of roundup being sprayed on fields by conventional farmers to raise these crops.. now our weeds are even becoming resistant to these chemicals. It's time more and more of us farmers leave the GMO crops alone…. GMOs are already banned in many EU countries, why not ours?? We simply don't need them. Farms would put a lot more folks to work and help with unemployment across the board without GMO crops.