Center for Food Safety (CFS) strongly criticized the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), after Politico revealed the lobbying group intends to carry through with legislation aimed at blocking states from mandating labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs).
Connecticut has already passed labeling legislation and Maine’s legislation only awaits the governor’s signature. Alaska has passed a bill requiring the labeling of genetically engineered fish and fish products. In 2013, 26 states introduced mandatory labeling legislation and Washington’s ballot initiative narrowly lost. 2014 looks to continue the labeling trend, with Oregon, Vermont, and numerous others, all pursuing state labeling. The leaked GMA discussion draft reveals that the GMA bill would not only block states from pursuing mandatory GMO labeling, it would also authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to define the word “natural,” which GMA has already indicated should include GMO products.
“It is clear that the Grocery Manufacturers Association will do anything in their power to keep the public from knowing what is in the food they are buying,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. “We and our allies in the food movement will work to make sure that the public’s right to know is protected and that this bill if introduced, is dead on arrival.”
In 2013, Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced commonsense legislation that would require federal mandatory labeling of GMOs. The Boxer-DeFazio bill would create a workable federal framework for the labeling of GMO foods, one that responsibly balances the rights of consumers to know what they are buying and feeding their families with the need from industry for a uniform national framework. Despite claiming that it supports a federal standard for labeling, the GMA has not supported the Boxer and DeFazio bills, instead focusing on preempting state action.
In a 2011 legal petition, Center for Food Safety provided FDA with a blueprint for a federal labeling of genetically engineered foods. FDA has yet to formally respond to that petition, though the agency has received more than 1.4 million comments supporting the petition and mandatory labeling.
CFS also recently submitted a letter to FDA arguing that GE foods not be defined as “natural.”