Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) took to the House floor this morning in opposition to House legislation that would preempt Vermont's GMO labeling law with a weaker national standard for foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. The legislation (S. 764), approved by the Senate on July 7, passed the House by a vote of 306 to 117. It will now go to the White House for consideration by President Obama.
"This is a win for Monsanto and big food producers," said Rep. Peter Welch. "It guts Vermont's labeling law and makes a mockery out of consumers' right to know. Absurdly, rather than requiring a simple, plain English GMO label, it allows a producer to require shoppers to call a toll free number or look up a website on their smartphones to figure out what's in the food they're buying. Let's get real. This is not a compromise. It's a thinly disguised effort to block the right of consumers to know what's in the food they eat."
The legislation imposes a national standard for labeling food products made with genetically modified ingredients. Labeling options available to food producers include, in addition to a GMO label like the one required under Vermont's law, a toll free number for a shopper to call while shopping, or a QR code for consumers to scan with a smartphone to get GMO information.
This new national standard would preempt existing state labeling laws. Currently, four states (Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, and Alaska) have enacted legislation that would require genetically engineered ingredients to be clearly labeled on food packaging with plain and simple wording that is easily and immediately identifiable to shoppers.