Action Alert: Congressional Attack on Consumers' Right to Know Regarding Genetically Engineered Foods, Bovine Growth Hormone, and "Cruelty Free" Cosmetics

Ronnie Cummins, Pure Food Campaign
Tel. 218-226-4164 or 218-226-4155 Fax 218-226-4157
May 12, 1997

Members of Congress (Richard Burr R-NC in the House Commerce Committee) are expected to reintroduce this spring a so-called "FDA Reform" bill, H.R. 1411, in the House and Senate which--among its provisions--will attempt to undermine consumers' rights to know what has been done to food products, animal drugs, and cosmetics. Specifically, "national labeling uniformity" provisions in "section 28" of the forthcoming "Drug and Biological Products Modernization Act of 1997" will make it nearly impossible for consumers to know whether food has been genetically engineered or not, whether toxic pesticides and other carcinogenic residues remain on food products, and whether cosmetics have been produced in an animal "cruelty free" manner. The bill, co-sponsored by 138 members of the House of Representatives in 1996 in the form of a similar bill, H.R 3200, would outlaw local and state "rBGH-free" labeling and advertising and make it all but impossible to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and crops. Section 28 basically prevents states or local legislative bodies from initiating labeling laws relating to food safety, genetically engineered foods or "cruelty free" cosmetics.

Critics point out that H.R. 1411 appears to be yet another manifestation of the new global economic order under the GATT agreements, whereby local, state, and national laws in regard to food safety, genetic engineering, pesticides, and disclosure of food or cosmetic production methods are eliminated or weakened in order to facilitate the rapid penetration and monopolization of global markets by giant transnational corporations--in this case multinational chemical, factory farm, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics firms. This type of anti-consumer right to know legislation becomes necessary for industry as consumer alarm over genetic engineering, factory farming, food safety, cloning, and animal cruelty intensifies. A 1997 industry poll found 93% of American consumers demanding mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, and 54% desiring organic production methods. Similar polls have found 80% of consumers expressing concern about food safety and pesticide residues, with 66% opposed to the cloning of animals. Consumers demanding animal "cruelty free" cosmetics, foods, and "dolphin safe" tuna have likewise had a major impact in the marketplace.

To move forward with its current wording H.R. 1411 will first have to be approved by the Health and Environment sub-committee of the Commerce Committee and then be approved by the full Commerce Committee. The Pure Food Campaign has begun working with consumer activists and public interest organizations across the U.S. to demand that "section 28" regarding "national uniformity" consumer labeling be removed from H.R. 1411. Citizens are urged to contact their:

to demand a written guarantee that they will not support any bill with language or provisions that would eliminate or reduce consumer choice in labeling. While contacting legislators, people are also urged to point out that it is outrageous that the FDA is not requiring national mandatory labeling of rBGH and all genetically engineered foods, since this is what 93% of the population wants.

If you want to organize a grassroots lobbying campaign in your area, please contact the PFC. We can put you in contact with others in your region who share your concerns. And finally, as we kill the anti-consumer provisions of this bill, we must begin to build a mass movement for mandatory labeling of all gene-foods,and mandatory disclosure of all relevant production methods and country of origin information for food, animal drugs, cosmetics, and other consumer products. ###

Organic Consumers Association (OCA)
6101 Cliff Estate Rd., Little Marais, Minnesota 55614
Activist or Media Inquiries: (218) 226-4164,  Fax: (218) 226-4157
Ronnie Cummins E-mail:

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