Tell USDA We Need Honest, Informative GE / GMO Labeling
As the deadline approaches for regulations on labeling genetically engineered (GE or GMO —genetically modified organism) food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a rule that fails in every important respect:
- It allows information to be conveyed by QR codes, whose use requires a cell phone (with camera function) and a reliable broadband connection.
- It allows GE food to be identified as “bioengineered” OR by a smiley-faced symbol containing the letters “be.”
- It does not cover highly processed GE foods, like vegetable oils or sugar, and does not include newer genetic engineering techniques, such as CRISPR (a gene editing tool).
- Implementation is delayed.
USDA is accepting comments through Regulations.gov. For quick copy and paste, use the text below to comment at Regulations.gov. Add a personal message at the beginning about why this is important to you, if possible.
As a consumer, I have a right to know whether my food is produced using genetic engineering. As USDA finalizes labeling regulations, please ensure that labels are honest, transparent, and informative by adopting the following policies:
- Reject package labeling with unreliable “QR codes” and other discriminatory communication methods; such options discriminate against more than 100 million Americans — especially many in rural communities, as well as low-income, people of color, and elderly populations that tend disproportionately to lack access to these technologies.
- Require labeling to use only common, well-established labeling terms, such as GE or GMO. Do not allow these to be replaced with the term “bioengineered,” or the entirely unfamiliar acronym “be.”
- Require neutral symbols: The disclosure law permits the use of symbols instead of text, but the proposed symbol — which conveys a blatant bias with its “smiley face” sun — should be prohibited, and only the acronym “GE” or “GMO” should be allowed as shorthand.
- Require all foods produced with genetic engineering — including highly processed oils and sugars — to be labeled.
- Include new and future methods of genetic engineering, such as gene editing (including CRISPR).
- Require companies to use GMO content labels by January 1, 2020, and reject the proposed delay until 2022.
- Ensure harmonization with the European Union by requiring disclosure if unintended GE contamination exceeds the current level of detection.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
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