Groups Call on President to Keep Campaign Promise and Require GMO Labeling
by Sofia Plagakis, 1/16/2014
The use of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) has increased enormously over the last decade but still lacks any labeling requirement or significant government oversight. Today, more than 200 organizations and businesses, including the Center for Effective Government, urged President Barack Obama to address this gap and require labeling of GMOs.
The letter reminds the president of his 2007 campaign pledge to give consumers the right to know if their food is genetically engineered. “It’s time for the President to fulfill his commitment,” stated Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now.
Four congressional advocates for GMO labeling – Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) – supported the letter and held a press event on Capitol Hill. The four members are among the 50 sponsors of H.R. 1699, a bill introduced in April 2013 that would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to label any foods containing GMOs. The bill remains pending in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee.
Two state legislatures have already approved some level or process for GMO labeling. More than 20 other states are either considering GMO labeling laws or have efforts underway to generate ballot initiatives on GMO labels, which would allow voters to determine whether food labels for GMOs should be required. The letter noted continued support for these state efforts but stressed the need for federal action, stating that “FDA has a duty to act when the absence of labeling would leave consumers confused about the foods they buy.”
The press conference and letter come as the food industry pushes Congress and FDA to preempt any state labeling requirements in favor of a voluntary federal labeling standard that would allow some GMO foods to be labeled "natural." However, national public opinion pollsconsistently show Americans want to know what is in their food and strongly support labeling of GMO foods.