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Daily News Blog

10
Jan

Consumers Misled by USDA Genetically Engineered Food Ingredient Label; Will Congress Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now undermining full public disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients in our food, both through misrepresentation in labeling and through a definition that allows a large percentage of ingredients to go undisclosed. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by food safety advocates, establishes a national GMO (genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered GE) food labeling requirement that has led to deceptive messaging, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology (because information is accessed the QR codes on products). However, USDA regulations go further—creating loopholes and barriers to transparency that prohibit the use of the widely-known terms “GMO” and “GE” and prohibit retailers from providing more information to consumers.

Tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to require USDA agencies to honestly disclose genetically engineered ingredients and carry out the goals of the Executive Memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to ask Agriculture Committees to hold oversight hearings to ensure that USDA holds to those goals.   

USDA is huge—encompassing 29 agencies and offices, with almost 100,000 employees—with duties ranging from research to marketing to distributing money to regulation. These agencies have a variety of missions, sometimes conflicting. The conflict was evident in the creation of regulations to implement the Dark Act. USDA has also been described as a captured agency that largely serves the interests of chemical-intensive agriculture and agribusiness. This was recognized when President Nixon shifted pesticide regulation out of USDA to the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. It was also recognized when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and created an independent panel of stakeholders, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), to provide oversight and direct USDA in implementing the law.

USDA encourages the use of genetically engineered crops, which, in turn, increases pesticide use and pesticide dependency. This conflict between promoting GE and chemical-intensive agriculture and protecting the public through the use of transparent labeling is one way that USDA’s practices are in conflict with the direction of President Biden’s inauguration day action, the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review. This presidential action instructs the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. Oversight is necessary to hold federal agencies—especially captured agencies like USDA— accountable to full transparency and public safety.  

Tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to require USDA agencies to honestly disclose genetically engineered ingredients in food and carry out the goals of the Executive Memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to ask Agriculture Committees to hold oversight hearings to ensure that USDA holds to those goals.   

To Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is huge—encompassing 29 agencies and offices, with almost 100,000 employees—with duties ranging from research to marketing to distributing money to regulation. Its agencies also have a variety of missions, sometimes conflicting. The conflict of programs supporting chemical-intensive agriculture with those promoting the interests of health, environment, and organic farmers was recognized when President Nixon shifted pesticide regulation from USDA to the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. It was also recognized when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and created an independent panel of stakeholders, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), to provide oversight and direct USDA in implementing the law.

The conflict was also evident in the creation of regulations to implement the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act. The statute itself, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by food safety advocates, establishes a national GMO (genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered GE) food labeling requirement that has led to deceptive messaging, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology (because information is accessed the QR codes on products). However, USDA regulations go further—creating loopholes and barriers to transparency that prohibit the use of the widely-known terms “GMO” and “GE” and prohibit retailers from providing more information to consumers.

USDA generally encourages the use of genetically engineered crops, which, in turn, increases pesticide use and pesticide dependency. This conflict between promoting GE and chemical-intensive agriculture and protecting the public through the use of transparent labeling is one way that USDA’s practices are in conflict with the direction of President Biden’s inauguration day action, the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review, requiring the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.

I urge you to hold USDA agencies accountable to the goals of this administration as expressed in the Executive Memorandum.

Thank you.

To Members of Congress
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is huge—encompassing 29 agencies and offices, with almost 100,000 employees—with duties ranging from research to marketing to distributing money to regulation. Many have referred to USDA as a captured agency that largely serves the interests of chemical-intensive agriculture and agribusiness. This was recognized when President Nixon shifted pesticide regulation out of USDA to the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. It was also recognized when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and created an independent panel of stakeholders, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), to provide oversight and direct USDA in implementing the law.

USDA’s agencies have a variety of missions, sometimes conflicting. The conflict was evident in the creation of regulations to implement the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act. The statute itself, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by food safety advocates, establishes a national GMO (genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered GE) food labeling requirement that has led to deceptive messaging, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology (because information is accessed the OR codes on products). However, USDA regulations go further—creating loopholes and barriers to transparency that prohibit the use of the widely-known terms “GMO” and “GE” and prohibit retailers from providing more information to consumers.

USDA encourages the use of genetically engineered crops, which, in turn, increases pesticide use and pesticide dependency. This conflict between promoting GE and chemical-intensive agriculture and protecting the public through the use of transparent labeling is one way that USDA’s practices are in conflict with the direction of President Biden’s inauguration day action, the Executive Memorandum and directive Modernizing Regulatory Review, requiring the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.

Oversight is necessary to hold USDA accountable to the goals of this administration as expressed in the Executive Memorandum.

Please ask the Agriculture Committee to hold oversight hearings to ensure that USDA honestly discloses genetically engineered ingredients in food and carries out the goals of the Executive Memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review.

Thank you.

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