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New Federal Bill Aims to Squash State GMO-Labeling Efforts

Efforts to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have sprouted across more than two dozen states, including two successful bills in Maine and Connecticut, along with measures that came up short at the ballot box in California and Washington.

But proposed federal legislation introduced on Wednesday would put an end to that by prohibiting any mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. It would also prohibit voters from proposing initiatives for labeling genetically engineered food at the state level.

The bill, named the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” was introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS). The bill aims to ensure that America can continue to produce an adequate amount of food to “feed the world,” Pompeo reportedly told a group of agriculture journalists.

Pompeo added that since there exists no evidence that genetically engineered foods posed a health or safety risk to humans, GMO labels mislead consumers into thinking there may be a safety risk.

Such legislation has received strong support from the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, a group of industry organizations including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which has been a major opponent of GMO-labeling efforts.

Proponents of GMO labeling call the bill an affront to states’ rights and an attack on consumers who wish to know what they’re buying.

“It’s clear that Congressman Pompeo and the GMA are willing to do whatever they can to immediately prohibit states from enacting sensible legislation for consumers to have the right to know what they’re buying and feeding their families,” Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs at the Center for Food Safety (CFS), told Food Safety News.

CFS is one of the leading proponents for GMO labeling, having donated $455,000 to labeling efforts in Washington state during the 2013 elections. At the same time, GMA spent $11 million to help defeat Washington’s mandatory labeling proposal.

Pompeo’s bill would reportedly require food companies to submit new genetically modified foods to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for review. The food under review would be “base products,” such as vegetables or fruits, as opposed to the final food product.

Pompeo added that the bill would not affect companies labeling their foods as “GMO-free.”

O’Neil called the bill “unworkable,” saying it offered no solutions to the debate over GMO labeling. He said that the bill was unprecedented in its push to preempt state law without a federal standard in place, but that the food industry should not be underestimated in its opposition to GMO labeling.

“The moneyed interests pushing this bill so urgently have a sizeable war chest,” O’Neil said. “It’s clear that they’re going to do whatever it takes to keep consumers in the dark.”

Representatives for the GMA did not return calls from Food Safety News as of press time.

As labeling efforts crop up in more states ahead of the next election cycle, the industry is seen as looking for a way to cut off new labeling measures before they make it to the ballot box, where millions more are likely to be spent on advertising campaigns.

Money spent on opposition campaigns to California’s GMO-labeling Proposition 37 topped $46 million, while campaigns in favor of labeling raised $9.2 million. In Washington, GMO-labeling Initiative 522 saw $22 million in opposition funding and $8.2 million in support.

Two states, Maine and Connecticut, have passed GMO-labeling laws, but the rules for both are contingent upon other states also approving labeling laws.

A labeling law in Vermont could be the first passed without such contingencies. It has cleared votes in the state’s House and Senate, though it faces a legal battle from the food industry. Voters may also push forward with GMO labeling in Oregon and Colorado this November.

Roughly 60 to 70 percent of processed foods in grocery stores contain at least one genetically modified ingredient, according to GMA.

© Food Safety News
  • Teresa Geib Bacon

    To many people just don’t care about this, why is that? Brainwashed idiots don’t care about this, Geo Eng Weather Control, making War, taking over countries and leaving someone worse in charge, corruption in Govt, influence of Islam, civil rights being eroded, and on and on. Why did you let it get so far?

  • http://geneticallyengineeredfoodnews.com Ella Baker

    GMO food labelling supporters are everywhere!

    • hyperzombie

      So are stupid people, a coincidence?

  • lynn

    Hmmm…..what are they trying to hide?

  • JohnG

    Americans want truth in labeling so we can make individual choices.

  • Bill Pilacinski

    As anyone who reads Food Safety News on a regular basis can attest, GMOs are not a significant food safety concern; whereas microbial contamination is. We waste everyone’s time, money and efforts to deal with real food safety issues when we continue to battle perceived threats that are not real. A bill like this is sorely needed.

    • farmber

      On the contrary — GMO labeling is one of the most significant food issues of our time. And this rather desperate Biotech attempt to preempt state labeling legislation is a further example of how far the industrialized food corporations will go to keep transparency out of our food system.

      • CycloneFarms

        Nonsense. GM is a breeding process, not an ingredient.

        And if you were really concerned about breeding processes, you’d be calling for labeling of mutagenic breeding processes, too.

        The anti-GMO “just label it” campaign is nothing more than a way to demonize biotech, nothing else.

        • farmber

          Nonsense cylone. GM is a not a breeding process per se but a completely artificial TRANSGENIC engineering process that moves entire packages of genes, often from entirely different species, to create novel — and unproven organisms — as well as producing unknown effects on the expression of the organism.

          In the 1990′s even through FDA scientists expressed deep concerns they were overruled by Quayle’s Council on $$$ Competitiveness and GE was greenlighted — unlabeled — into our food supply with the contradictory definitions of being “substantially equivalent’ and patentable at the same time. As a proprietary technology the Biotech companies have control over what studies FDA sees and is also able to restrict independent studies. In its hubris Biotechnology’s buyotechnology demonizes itself….

          What it all comes down to is this is NOT a proven technology as Big Biotech and its minions on the payroll insist — and people certainly have a right to know what’s in their food and how it is produced, pure and simple. That’s why the Labeling campaigns have deep citizen support — and despite the Big Money from Big Food spent to thwart labeling — this movement will grow and grow and grow — and in the process reveal what is being done to the industrialization of our food in all our names…

          • grifty

            So buy from a specific marketing program, like organic. Assume that everything that isn’t involved in a non-safety marketing program has GMOs in it.

  • Jan in KW

    We Are Cyclone….GMO is just the tip of the iceberg!

  • 999Greg

    Another lying/ misleading name for a law that *ONLY* requires new stuff to be looked at (whatever that means) — which means that existing stuff, like the internal pesticide loaded corn, will not ever be labeled.

  • http://rt.com james

    stand against GMO’s on May 24,2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Lindsey Neriah Jolly

      How? Why did the article exclude any useful information on dates of the bill to be reviewed and voted, and even the bill number?? Shame on the journalist for failing to inform the voting public to be effective!!!

  • RossK

    Artificial food products, prior to the introduction of GM foods, have a checkered past. Case in point, a number of ultimately banned artificial sweeteners that remained on the market overlong due to the intensive lobbying pressures of the food industry, after problems finally surfaced. There is relatively little oversight and pre-testing of food products. Politics, pressured by lobbying, rules the day, and the unaware public are often the ones that pay.

  • Beth

    They keep modifying these GMO crops in order to withstand stronger and stronger chemicals because they keep having to deal with weeds that keep evolving and becoming stronger. These chemicals have not been used on our food before and with massive amounts of these chemicals being put onto our food and into our environment. If the crop cannot withstand what we are putting on it, without being genetically modified, then I do NOT want to consume it or put my dollars towards it. We deserve to know if it’s GMO.

  • Lee Hawkins

    When you have skin problems and food allergies, like I do, that miraculously disappear when you stop eating the most likely sources of GMOs, like I have, then you know that this is something to freak out about. You are a FOOL to think that the government has any business regulating information about our food when obesity, diabetes, and cancer are spiraling out of control.

    And let’s consider some math—glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp, is registered as not only an herbicide with the EPA, but also as an antibiotic with the FDA. Farmers for decades have been using antibiotics on food animals, not only to keep them from getting sick, but also because it fattens them up in a fraction of the time. If people are eating these food animals and ingesting all these antibiotics along with them, AND they are also ingesting antibiotics from our plant-based food even—then we’ve just implicated GMO-everything in the obesity epidemic. So yeah, it’s a bad idea to let congress pass a law that tells us even less about how our food is made.

  • donjusko

    “Pompeo added that since there exists no evidence that genetically engineered foods posed a health or safety risk to humans, GMO labels mislead consumers into thinking there may be a safety risk.”

    I suggest you Google GMO Photos France.

  • donjusko

    Google GMO photos France.

    Get rid of the FDA.