Cornucopia’s Take: Congress passed the controversial and weak labeling law for foods with genetically modified organisms in 2016. They set a deadline of July 19, 2018 for USDA to issue labeling rules. The date has come and gone, and the Center for Food Safety has filed a legal complaint in hopes of bringing the agency into compliance.
Center for Food Safety Calls for Court Decision on GE Labeling Delay
Center for Food Safety
Consumer Group Seeks Court Ruling in Response to USDA’s Failure to Issue GE Food Disclosure Rules
San Francisco, CA. Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a motion for summary judgment on its federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failing to issue the genetically engineered (GE) food disclosure law by the mandatory deadline of July 19, 2018. Congress gave USDA two years after the 2016 GE labeling law was passed to draft and issue new labeling rules, but USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue missed the deadline.
“The American people have waited more than two years for USDA to issue mandatory GE labeling rules,” said George Kimbrell, CFS legal director. “It’s unfortunate that we have to take it to court to force USDA to do its job and give consumers the labeling rules they voted for, but it seems that’s the only method the Trump administration’s USDA will respond to. It’s our hope that the Court can get Trump’s USDA on a timeline it will actually follow with enforced deadlines.”
CFS and allied organizations submitted hundreds of thousands of consumer comments to USDA in support of an on-package label using text or a clear symbol. CFS is critical of several of the labeling options proposed by USDA such as QR codes, which require a smart phone and broadband connection to find out if a product was produced with GE technology or not. In 2017, CFS filed a separate lawsuit over USDA’s unlawful withholding of a study mandated by Congress on whether digital or QR code GE disclosure would be accessible to Americans, resulting in the release of the study showing major segments of Americans, including disproportionately rural, minority, elderly, and poor Americans, would not have sufficient access to information disclosed through QR codes.
CFS has been fighting for mandatory GE food labeling for over two decades at the federal and state levels, work that helped lead to the passage of the 2016 federal law. After CFS executive director Andrew Kimbrell wrote the award winning book, Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food, CFS assisted in drafting and passing the first-ever law to require labeling of GE fish and fish products in Alaska. In addition to writing model legislation used to create a GE labeling rule on a federal level, CFS also wrote model legislation that has been used in dozens of state legislation efforts, including California, Washington, Connecticut, and Maine. CFS filed a legal petition with FDA that garnered more than ½ million comments in support of mandatory GE food labeling nationwide. 64 countries, including member nations of the European Union, Russia, China, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, and South Africa require standards of mandatory GE food labeling.
View the motion for summary judgment here.
View the complaint here.