Friends of the Earth – 2018-07-02 01:23:47
ACTION ALERT: Tell the USDA:
We Need Clear Labels on GMO Foods!
Friends of the Earth
(July 1, 2018) — URGENT: We only have 2 days left to tell the USDA not to hide genetically engineered food behind smiley-face and sunshine labels! This labeling proposal is nothing more than industry propaganda and wouldn’t even cover all GMOs. We have to stop it. But time is running out to speak up.
The USDA is trying to allow the biotechnology industry to hide genetically engineered food behind a ridiculous label that includes a smiley face and a sun. And it wants to label these products “BE” — for “bioengineered” — instead of the widely understood “GMO.”
This proposal comes in response to demands from people like you to require labeling of GMO foods. But it’s so toothless and misleading that it would result in even more confusion about what we’re feeding our families. We need real labeling, not industry propaganda!
The USDA’s proposal is a laundry list of loopholes.
Some of the most common GMOs, such as corn, soy, canola, and sugar derived from GE beets, may not be labeled. Risky new GMOs may be exempt. And companies may be allowed to use QR codes to label their products — meaning anyone without a smartphone would have a hard time finding out what they’re really buying.
New GMO foods and products with GMO ingredients are entering the market every day — from the Impossible Burger to GE apples. The USDA should be empowering people to make an informed choice when they buy their food. But instead, it’s allowing big agriculture companies like Monsanto to keep us all in the dark about what we are eating.
People across the country are increasingly avoiding GMO ingredients. Organic agriculture — which doesn’t allow toxic synthetic pesticides or GMO ingredients — is on the rise.
By avoiding real GMO labeling, the USDA is helping Big Ag and the biotech industry protect their profits instead of protecting our food system. We have to fight back.
ACTION: We have a short window to stop this before July 3. We need you to speak up. Help us send 50,000 comments to the USDA to stop this food industry propaganda! Tell the USDA: We want a real labeling law — one which labels all GMOs and has on-package labeling!
Docket No: AMS-TM-17-0050
Dear Secretary Perdue,
As a person who eats food and a member of Friends of the Earth, I ask that the USDA consider the following comments in its efforts to create meaningful, consumer-friendly, mandatory GMO labeling standards.
Polls consistently show that roughly 90% of Americans want to know whether the foods they purchase are produced using genetic engineering, through clear, on-package labeling disclosures. It is critical that the USDA’s regulations and implementation of the GMO labeling law accurately reflect the intent of Congress when it passed the law, be consistent with international standards, and provide easy access to this information to all people.
USDA must require on-package labeling that names products as “GMO,” “GE” or “genetically engineered.” These are terms that the public recognizes and companies already use, not terms that the public won’t recognize like “BE” or “bioengineered.”
While the law includes potential options other than on-package labeling, such as QR codes and websites, only on-package labeling provides easy access to this information to all consumers.
According to Pew Research Center, only 50 percent of low-income people in the U.S. own a smartphone; only 52 percent of rural Americans own a smartphone; and only 27 percent of seniors own a smartphone. USDA’s own 2017 study reinforced these findings and found that owning a smart phone does not guarantee consistent access to the Internet.
The use of QR codes for GMO disclosure will deprive a large percentage of the public of their right to know if they are eating GMOs.
The labeling law should ensure that ALL foods produced through genetic engineering are labeled, including highly refined genetically engineered sugars and oils and processed corn and soy ingredients, even if they are so highly processed that the genetically engineered ingredients are present only at undetectable levels in the final product — they are still genetically engineered foods.
The regulations must cover any genetically engineered foods made with newer forms of genetic engineering and gene editing, such as CRISPR and RNA interference (RNAi).
Finally, USDA must require labeling in a timely fashion. USDA must meet its deadline of proposed and then final rules by July 29, 2018. USDA should require manufacturers to implement these labeling regulations as quickly as possible after they become effective.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dana Perls, Senior food and technology policy campaigner for Friends of the Earth.