Congress can do better on GMO labeling

Capitol_Building_Washington_DC-870x300-855x285Both the Senate and House have passed the “DARK Act” (S. 764), a controversial bill that’s been debated for several years now. The bill is being touted as a “compromise” but falls woefully short on requiring mandatory, on-package labeling. The bill instead gives companies — including those already labeling their products — options for disclosing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in their products that are much less transparent, such as QR codes or 1-800 numbers. The bill also preempts existing and future state labeling laws, including Vermont’s, which went into effect on July 1. Though a national labeling law is ideal, we support strong state legislation when federal requirements don’t go far enough to support consumer choice. We’re also concerned about the absence of clear enforcement provisions in this bill and ambiguous definitions and loopholes that could exempt most GE foods from labeling.

The bill also prohibits certain labels on SEED. We’re concerned about a provision in the preemption section of this bill that prohibits states from requiring clear labeling of GE seed. As an organization that advocates for the organic seed community, including farmer choice in seed free of GE traits, we believe it’s important for organic and other farmers who sell to non-GE markets to have as much information as possible about the seed they’re buying.

Two states require clear labeling of GE seed (VT and VA). This bill will preempt existing and future state requirements for this type of transparency. And, because the definitions in this bill begin to blur the lines between what is GE and what isn’t, it’s that much more important to protect transparency in the seed marketplace (see Sec. 295(b) of the bill).

Call President Obama TODAY. Tell him to veto this bill because Congress can and should do better. It’ll only take a minute. The number is: (202) 456-1111.

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