Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act Introduced by Boxer/DeFazioApril 25th, 2013
By Anne Sewell
Washington – On April 24, the Genetically Engineered Right-to-Know Act was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), to require food manufacturers to inform consumers of genetically engineered ingredients in their products.
Katey Parker of “Just Label It“, which has more than 650 partner organizations, hailed this introduction: Americans want to know more, not less, about their food.” “More than 90 percent of Americans want the same rights as consumers in 64 countries around the world. It’s time to trust American consumers with information about genetically engineered ingredients so they can make the best choices for themselves and their families.”
In 1992, the FDA released a policy statement that allows GE foods to be sold without labeling, claiming that these foods are not “materially” different from other foods. They state that they are not different, because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.
However, common sense indicates that GE corn that produces its own insecticide, or is engineered to survive being sprayed with herbicides, is materially different from traditional corn.
Even the US Patent and Trademark Office recognizes that these foods are materially different, otherwise patents could not be passed. Over a million and a half Americans have complained to the FDA, urging them to label GE foods. They say they can read labels to see if foods contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame or MSG, and they want more information about genetic engineering of the products they buy.
The bipartisan legislation that was introduced on Wednesday would require clear labeling of genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. This measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards, consistent with US and international standards.
At present, 64 countries worldwide require the labeling of GE foods and this includes all European Union member nations, as well as Australia, China, Japan, Russia and New Zealand.
In a press statement on Wednesday, US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) advised that she and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) had introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.
Co-sponsors of the House 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) are cosponsors of the Senate bill. 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 (D-VA), 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).
In Senator Boxer’s press statement it states that The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act has broad support from many organizations and businesses. These include: The Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Environmental Working Group, Just Label It, the National Farmers Union, Stonyfield Farms, Consumer Federation of America, AllergyKids Foundation, National Cooperative Grocers Association, New England Farmers Union, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Center for Environmental Health, Chefs Collaborative, Label GMOs, Alaska Trollers Association, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar & Company, Lundberg Family Farms, Nature’s Path, Annie’s Inc., and many others.
The following are statements made by various Senators and Congressmen who support the new legislation:
“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. “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.”
“When American families purchase food, they deserve to know if that food was genetically engineered in a laboratory,” Representative DeFazio said. “This legislation is supported by consumer’s rights advocates, family farms, environmental organizations, and businesses, and it allows consumers to make an informed choice.”
“American consumers have made it clear that they want to be empowered to make choices about the food they eat. This legislation will deliver the transparency every American deserves by providing clear labeling standards for food containing genetically engineered ingredients,” said Senator Gillibrand.
“This is a common sense approach to ensuring that American consumers know more and make more informed decisions about the foods they eat,” Senator Blumenthal said. “As an advocate for consumers’ rights and ally of many groups supporting this measure, I want to make sure the food industry gives consumers the full story about what they put on their dinner tables. Consumers deserve to have clear, consistent, and accurate facts about the food products they purchase. More information is always better than less.”
“Alaskans deserve to know what’s on their dinner plate, especially if it might come from a science lab. Labeling Genetically Engineered food should be a no-brainer which is why I’m pleased to join my colleagues on this bill to make sure consumers are fully informed when they make choices at the grocery store,” said Senator Begich.
“American families shouldn’t have to play a guessing game when it comes to the food they put on their kitchen tables,” Senator Tester said. “Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food, and this bill gives them the tools they need to make informed decisions about the foods they choose.”
“All over this country people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids. This is certainly true for genetically engineered foods,” Senator Sanders said. “I believe that when a mother goes to the store and buys food for her child she has the right to know what she is feeding her child.”
“Oregonians want to know what is in their food, and they should have the right to find out,” said Senator Merkley. “Labeling is the common sense way to bring more transparency to consumers.”
This new labeling legislation follows last year’s letter from Senator Boxer, Representative DeFazio and 54 Senate and House lawmakers urging the FDA to require the labeling of GE foods. In July 2012, Digital Journal reported that Senator Boxer was a major endorsement in the “Yes on 37” Right to Know campaign in California.