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Lawmakers Condemn Dangerous Industry-Driven Food Labeling Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today, Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Peter Welch (VT), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), and Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) condemned the industry-driven Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, legislation that would overturn state laws requiring labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and deny consumers the right to know what is in the food they consume.

Although 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of food containing GMOs, there is no federal policy in place to label such foods. Three states--Vermont, Maine and Connecticut--have passed laws requiring GMO labeling, and over 30 states have considered similar legislation.

The bill would preempt states' laws on GMO labeling and codify the current broken system of voluntary labeling. In addition, the bill would create even more confusion in the marketplace by requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow misleading "natural' claims on food products containing GMOs.

Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

In February, Representative DeFazio introduced H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act. The legislation would require FDA to set a mandatory labeling system for foods that contain GMOs. In addition, any product that contains GMOs would be prohibited from using the label "natural' on its packaging.

"H.R. 1599 is a full-scale attack on consumer's rights," said Rep. DeFazio. "Americans deserve the opportunity to make informed decisions about the food they eat and what they feed their families--an opportunity that China, Russia, and Kazakhstan allow their citizens, but not the United States. A truly free market would allow such information to be disclosed to consumers, and yet here we are making it more difficult and confusing for consumers."

"In New Hampshire and across the country, Americans are speaking up and demanding greater transparency about how their food is made and grown. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I am a firm believer that Granite Staters deserve the information necessary to make informed decisions about the food they feed their families," said Rep. Kuster. "Unfortunately, the DARK Act will preempt existing state laws regarding GMO labeling and limit consumer transparency of food ingredients. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill when it comes to the floor."

"American families deserve to know what they are eating and feeding to their children," said Rep. DeLauro. "The FDA already requires clear labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and food processes. GMOs should be no different. My home state of Connecticut has already passed GMO labeling standards, which are designed to help families make informed decisions about the food they eat. We cannot reverse all the gains we have made. Consumers have a right to know."

"Americans have a right to know what is in their food and how it is grown," said Rep. Blumenauer. "H.R. 1599 is an egregious federal overreach that would undo important state and local efforts to inform consumers. Instead of undermining this progress, Congress should require mandatory GMO labeling at the federal level and pass the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act."

"The issue with this legislation is not whether GMOs are safe. The issue is whether consumers have a right to know what's in the food they are feeding their families," Rep. Welch said. "If Monsanto is so proud of its product, then why on earth is it waging an all-out war to hide it from families who simply want to know what's in their food? The message to consumers in this bill is very clear: It's none of your business."

"The DARK Act is just what Big Food and Monsanto want," Rep. Pingree said. "But nine out of ten consumers say they support GMO labeling, so it sure isn't what the public wants. This is really an anti-consumer, anti-right-to-know bill that would prevent families from making intelligent choices about whether or not they want to buy food with GMO ingredients. It takes choices away from consumers and rights away from states and Congress should reject it."

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