Labeling Bill Leaves Public in the Dark

Contact: Amalie Lipstreu, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org; Renee Hunt, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2016

Columbus, Ohio—A bill released by the U.S. Senate will continue to hide information about food with GE ingredients, according to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), a statewide sustainable food and farm not-for-profit.

“Although its being called a ‘national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods,’ this bill will keep Americans in the dark about what they eat and feed their families,” said Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator.

The bill gives food manufacturers three options for labeling of GE food: text on the label, a scan code for use with smart phones, and a symbol.

“The reality is that companies already have the option to use clear and honest labeling on the package and none have labeled their products until the threat of the Vermont law loomed,” said Lipstreu. “The action by the Senate protects chemical industry groups that want to obscure information on food produced using bioengineering and pesticides.”

Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) released the compromise bill on June 24, days before a Vermont law requiring mandatory on-package labeling of GE food is set to go into effect. This bill would preempt Vermont’s law and prevent any other state laws from taking effect.

The compromise bill would reduce label transparency by giving manufacturers the choice of replacing a clear and factual statement with an unfamiliar symbol or scan code—the latter a special burden for those without smart phones. The law would also exempt all meat, poultry, and egg products raised on GE feed and food where those GE products are the main ingredient.

“This so-called compromise puts the interests of the biotech industry ahead of the public and does not serve the people of this country,” said Lipstreu.

More than 60 countries have laws for straightforward labeling of GE food, which have not disrupted trade, or had negative impacts on consumers or the agricultural industry. “The marketplace is demanding a clear on-package statement. This bill will not deliver the information consumers seek,” said Lipstreu.

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OEFFA is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.