Update: Tell the USDA GMO Labeling Belongs on Package
The USDA has extended the comment period deadline to August 25, 2017. Submit your comments now!
We’ve fought for years for labeling of genetically engineered (GE or GMO) food. Now, we need to push for the clear labeling of all GMOs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently considering how to implement the GMO labeling law and they need to hear from you.
As you may remember, a “compromise” bill on GMO labeling was passed last year, but a lot of the decisions about what foods would be labeled, and how they would be labeled, were left up to the USDA. The law includes labeling options other than on-package labeling, such as QR codes and websites, which would only serve to hide the information this law was passed to provide.
Big Ag and food companies have made it clear which option they support for labeling: QR codes. They know consumers don’t use these codes and that “labeling” via QR codes is really no labeling all. The agency has heard from big corporations – now they need to hear from you!
The USDA is also deciding which GMOs are labeled. The labeling law should ensure that ALL foods produced through genetic engineering are labeled, not cave into big Ag’s pressure to avoid labeling their products through a deceptive, narrow definition of GMOs. It is essential that emerging technologies are included in law so that consumers aren’t unknowingly serving as lab rats for loosely or unregulated new technologies.
Comments must be submitted to the USDA by July 17th. There is no docket for these comments, so they should be sent or delivered directly to USDA at [email protected]. Use the sample letter text below to address some of the most pressing issues. Visit USDA AMS to view the full list of questions the USDA is requesting comments on.
Sample Letter Text
Send to: [email protected]
RE: GMO Labeling Standards
Americans have called upon the U.S. government to label GE foods for many years, to give Americans the same information provided to the citizens of 64 other countries around the world. Polls consistently show that nearly 90% of Americans want to know whether the foods they purchase are produced using genetic engineering, through clear, on-package labeling disclosures. Now, it is critical that the USDA regulations and implementation of the GE labeling law accurately reflect the intent of Congress when they passed the law, provide consistency with international standards, and provide easy access to this information to all Americans.
1. USDA must require on-package labeling.
While the law includes potential options other than on-package labels, such as QR codes and websites, only on-package labeling provides easy access to all Americans. According to Pew Research Center; only 50% of low-income people in the U.S. own a smartphone, only 52% of rural Americans own a smartphone, and only 27% of seniors own a smartphone. Even those who do own smartphones are not guaranteed consistent access to the internet. At the end of the day, a substantial number of Americans would be deprived of their right to know if GMO labeling were done through QR codes.
In addition, electronic labeling disclosures put an undue burden on the shopper. It is completely unrealistic for a shopper to scan all the many items s/he is shopping for on any given shopping trip (which for a family of 4 could easily amount to more than 50 items). On-package labeling is simple, quick and effective. QR codes, websites, and 1-800 numbers are not.
2. USDA must label ALL GMOs
The labeling law should ensure that ALL foods produced through genetic engineering are labeled, including highly refined GE sugars and oils and processed corn and soy ingredients, even if they are so highly processed that the GE ingredients are present only at undetectable levels in the final product: they are still GE foods. The regulations should also ensure that any GE foods made with newer forms of genetic engineering, such as CRISPR, RNA interference (RNAi), and synthetic biology, are covered.
3. USDA must require labeling in a timely fashion.
Americans have already waited a long time for GE food labeling. USDA must meet its deadline of proposed and then final rules by July 29, 2018. In addition, USDA should not give manufacturers more than a short period after that date for the labeling regulations to become effective. Manufacturers have already had years’ worth of notice and preparation to provide this information, at the state and federal level. Indeed, many major food companies are already labeling and have been for some time.