Following state-level initiatives on the West Coast, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “clearly label” all genetically engineered (GE) foods, including foods that are made from GE grains and GE salmon, if it is approved by the agency.
The bill, dubbed the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, has ten co-sponsors in the Senate, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who represents a big salmon state and is supportive of labeling GE salmon, Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and nearly two dozen co-sponsors in the House, including Reps. Don Young (R-AK), also a vocal supporter of labeling GE salmon; Chellie Pingree (D-ME); Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Jim McDermott (D-WA).
While polls have found that nine in ten Americans support labeling, a high profile proposition, Prop. 37, which would have mandated labeling in California failed last year. Washington state is set to put a similar initiative on the ballot next election.
“Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families,” Senator Boxer said in the announcement Wednesday. “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.”
Rep. Polis said the bill is about “empowering consumers: consumers can chose to eat or not eat GMOs, or to pay more or less for GMOs.” He said he believes consumers have a right to know what they are eating. I believe consumers have a right to know what they are eating so they can make their own informed food choices. I am proud to be working toward more informative food labels.”
More than 60 countries have some form of mandated GE labeling for foods, but in the U.S. labeling has been on a voluntary basis, with a hodge podge of “GMO-free,” or genetically modified organism-free, certifications and independent labels. In the early 1990s, the FDA determined that GE foods were not materially different from their non-GE counterparts and so there was no need to mandate labels, but 20 years later a movement has been built to pressure legislatures to reverse course.© Food Safety News