(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2014) U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) joined other members of Congress, along with more than 200 businesses and organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, in petitioning President Obama to adopt labeling requirements for genetically engineered (GE) foods. The letter encourages the president to fulfill his campaign pledge made in 2007 to require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt a national mandatory labeling system.
“It’s time the FDA’s policies reflected 21st century food technologies,” said Rep DeFazio in a press conference last Thursday. “After all, twenty years ago they didn’t have corn that could produce its own insecticides.”
In April 2013, Rep. DeFazio and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation that requires FDA to label GE food, under the proposed Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. The bill now has 50 cosponsors. “Two state legislatures have already approved GE labeling and more than 20 other states are considering GE labeling laws,” the letter reads, referring to the GE labeling laws passed in Connecticut and Maine.
“Plain and simple, this is about consumer rights,” said Rep. DeFazio. “People should have the ability to make an informed choice about what they feed their family and we know it’s not an impossible request of food manufacturers, because they already label GMOs in more than sixty countries. Food manufacturers can and should offer that same standard right here in the U.S.”
Many countries, including the European Union and Japan, have banned planting of GE crops outright and more than 60 other countries already require GE labeling. “We know it can be done,” said Rep. DeFazio. Consumers have a right to know whether the foods they buy contain GE ingredients not only because of concerns over the safety of eating GE food, but also because of the direct and indirect effects of GE agriculture on the environment, wildlife, and the human health. Repeated spraying herbicides, particularly glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, demonstrably destroys refuge areas for beneficial insects, directly harms amphibians, and leads to resistance in weed species the GE technology was intended to control. With the significant issue of herbicide resistance, farmers have resorted to increasingly toxic combinations of chemicals, despite the presence of organic management practices that are protective of human health and the environment and produce the same yield. Thus, for a multitude of reasons, consumers have the right to know the ingredients in the products they are purchasing.
In the meantime, the best way to avoid food with GE ingredients is to buy organic. Under organic certification standards, GE organisms are prohibited. For this and many other reasons, organic products are the right choice for consumers. For more information on GE foods and labeling issues, see Beyond Pesticides’ Genetic Engineering website.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides