Organic Consumers Association

TAKE ACTION BY AUGUST 25: Tell the USDA What Real GMO Labels Look Like!

If you can read this (GMO lable), thank a teacher. If you can't read this (QR code), thank Monsanto.Last summer, food companies began labeling foods  “produced with genetic engineering” to comply with Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law, which took effect July 1, 2016.

But this landmark victory for consumers was short-lived. On July 14, Congress passed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, and Obama signed the law on July 29. The DARK Act blocked states like Vermont from requiring clear, on-package labels on GMO foods, and replaced state laws with a meaningless loophole-riddled federal law.

The DARK Act directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to come up with a federal “bioengineered food disclosure” scheme. Trump Administration is beginning to write the regulations which will define that scheme, and is seeking public comments on those regulations until August 25. 

TAKE ACTION BY AUGUST 25: Tell the USDA what real GMO labels look like!

Vermont’s GMO labeling law (as well as Connecticut and Maine’s which were never enforced) set the standard for what real GMO labels look like. All foods that were “produced with genetic engineering” were labeled as such. The only foods that were exempt were foods prepared for immediate consumption (for example, food in restaurants or salad bars), alcohol and foods from animals fed genetically engineered feed. These exemptions were necessary to comply with preexisting federal labeling laws.

Congress and the USDA have the power to require even stricter labels than Vermont. But instead, Congress passed the DARK Act, a law clearly intended to severely limit the number of GMO foods that would be labeled. Plus, instead of actual words on the package, the DARK Act lets food companies hide information about GMOs on websites. Under this scheme, consumers would have to download a so-called SmartLabel app to their smart phones, then—while they’re shopping—scan QR barcodes which send them to the brand’s website where they have to search for information on GMO ingredients.

When the DARK Act passed last summer we called it what it was: a great big thank-you gift from Congress to Monsanto for the money the company donates to Congress members’ re-election campaigns. We protested the vote by throwing $2,000 in “Monsanto money” on the Senate floor.

Why is it so important to Monsanto that you don’t know about GMOs?

According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption, including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.”

Monsanto claims:

There is a large body of documented scientific testing showing that the GM crops being grown and harvested are safe (Center for Environmental Risk Assessment). These studies focus on the wholesomeness and nutritional value of GM crops and upon the safety of the specific varieties used.

But independent scientists who reviewed the studies Monsanto points to disagree:

Among the animal feeding studies and reviews of such studies in the list, a substantial number found toxic effects and signs of toxicity in GM-fed animals compared with controls. Concerns raised by these studies have not been satisfactorily addressed and the claim that the body of research shows a consensus over the safety of GM crops and foods is false and irresponsible.

GMOs have greatly increased our exposure to toxic pesticides. Before genetic engineering, herbicides were used with care because they could damage the crop. But now, herbicide-tolerant GMO crops allow herbicides to be used indiscriminately. Insecticides used to be sprayed on crops. But now crops are engineered to produce insecticides in every cell of the plant.

Nearly all of the GMOs grown today (more than 99% in 2016) are pesticide plants engineered to withstand or produce toxic pesticides.

Of course, very few people know how genetic engineering is used in agriculture, or that most of the foods Americans commonly consume contain GMO ingredients.

That’s why we need GMO labels—not QR codes or other technology schemes that make it difficult for many, and impossible for some consumers to know whether they’re buying GMO foods, or foods that contain GMO ingredients.

TAKE ACTION BY AUGUST 25: Tell the USDA what real GMO labels look like!

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