Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

Viroqua Food Co-op Opposes Voluntary-Only GMO Labeling Bill

Posted by Charlene Elderkin on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 10:42 AM

Viroqua Food Co-op  expresses its strong opposition to The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. congress-debating-GMO_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).
Mandatory GMO labeling advocates have dubbed this bill the Denying Americans the Right-to-Know, or DARK Act, and the Viroqua Food Co-op agrees that it would deny Americans the right to know what’s in their food.

VFC 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:

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Consumers Want the Right to Know

  • Support for GMO labeling crosses demographic boundaries. Multiple surveys show that over 90% of Americans—regardless of their age, income, education or party affiliation—want GMO foods labeled.
  • Americans want to know what’s in their food. American consumers want the same rights as consumers in 64 countries where GMO foods are already labeled.
  • Millions of Americans have taken action. More than 1.4 million Americans have joined a petition to FDA demanding mandatory GMO labeling, more than any other petition in the FDA’s history.
  • Non-GMO labels are not the solution. Under The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, the only way a consumer could find the new GMO apple, GMO potato or GMO salmon would be to label everything else in the produce section or the fish counter as non-GMO.
     

Want GMOs Labeled? Contact Congress Today.

If you would like see GMO foods labeled, now is a critical time to contact your elected officials. Right now, Congress is debating a proposed law that would block mandatory GMO labeling at the national and state levels. Titled The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, this bill establishes new barriers to a national mandatory labeling system, and undermines the public will by nullifying GMO labeling laws already on the books in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine. It would also prevent states from passing any future GMO labeling laws. Check out this article for more info: GMO Labeling: A Pivotal Moment.

Contacting Congress about GMO Labeling

You will find helpful talking points at  www.strongertogether.coop/GMObill and www.justlabelit.org

It takes only about ten minutes to contact your representatives using the GovTrack website. Just follow these steps:

 #1 Go to the bill’s page.
 #2 Click “Call Congress” and follow the prompts. If you support mandatory GMO labeling, click “oppose” The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. You will be able to look up your representatives by entering your address, and have an opportunity to email your lawmaker or have a congressional staffer call you at a number you provide.
 #3 Remember to complete steps #1 and #2 for your two Senators and one House Representative.

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.

Tags: GMO labeling