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Comments must be received by July 3.

When the giant biotech companies were able to ram the DARK Act through Congress in 2016, eliminating the right of states to establish their own labeling standards for GMOs, the law required the USDA to come up with a federal GMO labeling scheme.

The USDA released a wholly unacceptable labeling proposal on May 3—smoke and mirrors on behalf of the biotechnology industry.

You have through July 3 to comment on the USDA draft proposal and advocate, instead, for clear labeling of GMOs on all food packaging.

Flaws in the USDA proposal include:

  • Allowing companies to use Quick Response (QR) codes, those inscrutable Rorschach-like images found on some product packaging, advertisements in magazines, and signage. The rule proposes that scanning these speckled black squares with your smart phone will lead to additional product information.  Of course this requires an internet connection and a smart phone or other device.  It is estimated that 130 million Americans lack the resources to do this.  QR codes allow companies to camouflage their GMO ingredient information.  This is not acceptableLet the USDA know that clear product clear package labeling is essential, not the use of QR
    codes or enhanced UPC codes
    .
  • The USDA has released some preliminary logos for potential use with GMO products. The smiley face, “feel-good” images provide no value other than encouraging your acceptance of the product.  The use of the lettering, BE, is disingenuous.  It is supposed to stand for bioengineered, a term most consumers are not familiar with (most are familiar with GE/genetic engineering or GMO/genetically modified organism).  To make it even more confusing, the image closely resembles logos used in the European Union to signify organic products.  How insulting is that?  And the close resemblance could trigger further trade battles with European nations.  Tell the USDA to dump the smiley face BE logo and replace it with something more objective.
  • The USDA remains undecided on whether processed foods made with GMO corn, soy, sugar beets, and canola must display GMO product information. Consumers have the right to know this information, and the USDA must require full disclosure of GMO ingredients in food products.  Let the USDA know this.
  • The USDA proposal is also unclear about how new forms of genetic engineering, such as the gene editing technique known as “CRISPR,” will be addressed. The USDA’s labeling regulations must cover all forms of genetic engineering, and the USDA needs to hear that from you.

Again, public comments are due by July 3. Make your voice heard!

Lastly, it is worth remembering that passage of the DARK Act would not have been possible without the behind-the-scenes machinations of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), a few of its most powerful members, and two corporate-funded non-profit organizations – Just Label It (JLI) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  Their efforts, sadly, helped push this biotech-friendly law over the top.

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