A federal law preventing individual states, namely Vermont, from requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods has been signed by President Obama. Unlike the Vermont state law, now curtailed, this federal law does not require “words” on packages of GMO food noting that the food has been “produced with genetic engineering.”
We the People, Your Voice in the White House responded to a petition signed by over 106,000 people asking President Obama to veto what has been called the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act by opponents of the now federal law. In its email in response to this petition, We the People noted that President Obama and his Administration “take it seriously” the interest Americans have expressed “in understanding how their food is produced- including whether it was produced using bioengineering . . . .” Nonetheless, frustrating the petitioners, Vermont’s reasonable requirement that packages of GMO food should include a label with “words” that the food has been “produced with genetic engineering” has been countermanded.
Instead, companies have been provided with so-called “flexibility” to avoid using “words” on food labels and can choose to use merely “A digital QR (Quick Response) code that customers can scan with their smartphone if they want to learn about bioengineered ingredients.” Smaller companies can offer “a phone number of URL on the package that consumers can access for more info.”
This federal law, named the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, also directs the Agricultural Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop “a national mandatory system for disclosing the presence of bioengineered material.” A working group has been established by the USDA “to develop a timeline for rule making and to ensure an open and transparent process for effectively establishing this new program.”
We previously reported on the effectiveness of the Vermont labeling law, which had become effective on July 1, 2016. Some large food companies like Kellogg’s, Campbell Soup, and General Mills had even decided to use labels that complied with the Vermont law, as noted by gmoinside.org, on all of their products which contain GMO ingredients nationwide albeit unenthusiastically.
The Organic Consumers Association has noted that by preempting the Vermont labeling law, this federal law is “an attack on states’ rights and another gift to Monsanto and Big Food.” In response, OCA will be rolling out “a number of targeted campaigns that will expose some of the worst food companies on the planet, and call on them to start producing healthy food, using farming practices that heal the Earth, not poison it.”
(Frank W. Barrie, 8/19/16)