Viroqua Food Co-op Opposes
Voluntary-Only GMO Labeling Bill
April 30, 2015
Viroqua Food Co-op today expresses its strong opposition to The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599), which codifies the current system of voluntary labeling of GMO foods and was recently introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).
Viroqua Food Co-op believes in consumers' right to information, including sufficient product labeling, so that they can make their own informed food choices. Given the high consumer interest in GMOs and support for GMO labeling – and the potential for GMOs to be present in up to 80 percent of packaged products – VFC supports federal, mandatory labeling of GMO foods.
Unfortunately, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act does not protect consumers' rights to information and Viroqua Food Co-op opposes this bill because it:
- Lacks transparency. Since the bill only codifies the current system of voluntary labeling and does not mandate that manufacturers inform customers of the presence of GMO ingredients, adopting this bill means that consumers will still be left in the dark as to whether or not many of the foods they are consuming contain GMOs. Only mandatory labeling fulfills consumer demand for transparency regarding GMOs.
- Undermines public will. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act nullifies the GMO labeling laws already on the books in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine, which passed with strong public support. Furthermore, the bill preempts states by blocking any future state legislation or ballot initiatives that would require GMO labeling.
- Creates potential for consumer confusion. By requiring the FDA to define natural, this voluntary GMO labeling bill confuses the issue of GMO labeling with the issue of defining natural, thereby creating confusion between the two, and could result in a definition of “natural” that includes GMOs.
The Viroqua Food Co-op urges Congress to reject The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, and to instead pass The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act (H.R. 913, S. 511), which has already been submitted this session and is the only federal bill that would require GMOs to be labeled.
Contacting Congress about GMO Labeling
It takes only about ten minutes to contact your representatives using the GovTrack website. Just follow these steps:
If you’re feeling shy or nervous about communicating your viewpoints, know that your phone call or email will be answered by a staff person who has been trained to listen to your viewpoint and convey it to your congressperson—they will not debate or challenge you. For more tips, see How to Contact Congress.
What are GMOs?
GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are organisms that have been created through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This relatively new science allows DNA from one species to be combined into another species in a laboratory, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Why are GMOs a concern?
GMO crops and foods are promoted on the basis of a range of farreaching claims from the industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops: Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops, are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops, are strictly regulated for safety, increase yields, reduce pesticide use, benefit farmers and make their lives easier, bring economic benefits, benefit the environment, can help solve problems caused by climate change, reduce energy use, and will help feed the world.
However, a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence indicates that GM crops: Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods and pose different risks from non-GM crops, can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts, are not adequately regulated to ensure safety, do not increase yield potential, do not reduce pesticide use but increase it, create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops, have mixed economic effects and disrupt markets, harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity, do not offer effective solutions to climate change, are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops, and cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.
Learn more by visiting GMO Myths and Truths.
Are there specific ingredients in foods that are likely GMOs?
The most common genetically modified crops are corn, soybeans, rapeseed (canola oil), sugar beets, and cotton, which are engineered to control the growth of weeds and resist insects. Since many of these are common ingredients in non-organic processed food, GMOs are appearing in more and more products.
I am worried abut GMOs in food. What should I buy?
Since products containing GMOs are not currently required to be labeled in the United States, the best way you can avoid GMOs is by purchasing products that are USDA Certified Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified. You can educate yourself about products that are Non-GMO Project Verified here.
What is the Co-op doing about GMOs?
Viroqua Food Co-op is very concerned about GMOs in our food supply and we believe that everyone has the right to know whether or not GMOs are in the food we’re eating and feeding to our loved ones. As a result, we have been proactive in supporting efforts to get a national GMO labeling law passed and to educate our owners, supporters, and community members about GMOs. Some of these efforts include:
- Being an active supporter of Just Label It, an organization working to pass legislation mandating the labeling of foods containing GMOs. We frequently post signs throughout our store and send out Just Label It emails to our action alert email list to bolster support for their efforts.
- Participating in non-GMO Month every October by featuring non-GMO Project Verified products on our end of aisle displays and by sampling those products to raise awareness about GMO labeling.
- Being a member of National Cooperative Grocers (NCG), along with 143 other food co-ops. With them we are stronger together. NCG supports the Federal Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill, reintroduced in February 2015 to the House and Senate.
- Printing numerous articles in our Pea Soup Newsletter about GMOs (March/April 2011, September/October 2011, May/June 2012, January/February 2013, September/October 2013, July/August 2014, March/April 2015) that aim to educate our owners about GMOs and the movement to label foods that contain them.
- Hosting educational events to raise awareness about GMOs (like our screening of GMO OMG).
What can I do to help fight GMOs?
Contact your legislators and add your voice to the campaign to prevent deregulation of GMOs and label GMO foods. You can do so here: Just Label It- Take Action!
If you’d like to receive action alerts about advocacy and political issues around food issues (including GMOs), sign up for our email list at the top right hand corner of this page. When you sign up, be sure to check the action alert box.
Below you'll find a video discussing the first-ever lifetime feeding study evaluating the health risks of genetically engineered foods was published online on September 19, 2012. This new study joins a list of over 30 other animal studies showing toxic or allergenic problems with genetically engineered foods.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, found that rats fed a type of genetically engineered corn that is prevalent in the US food supply for two years developed massive mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage, and other serious health problems.