Claiming they are merely seeking a “national solution,” mega food corporations are pushing a federal GMO labeling law.
The problem is, the law would be voluntary and it would preempt every state in this country from passing legislation that isn’t, according to a draft obtained by Politico.
But the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents such food and beverage leaders as ConAgra, PepsiCo and Kraft, isn’t exactly joining the anti-GMO movement. It’s advocating for an industry-friendly, law with a voluntary federal standard — a move that food activists see as a power grab by an industry that has tried to kill GMO labeling initiatives every step of the way.
GMA is looking for a federal solution to GMO labeling that would require the FDA to set up a voluntary labeling standard for foods that do not contain GMOs and determine the safety of GMO products. A section-by-section summary of the food industry’s legislation reveals it would preclude states from adopting any laws that are not identical to the federal requirements and create a legal framework so that FDA can take a more active role in regulating GMO-labeling claims. [emphasis added]
While the draft also says the GMO industry must submit to further FDA oversight, that “oversight” apparently involves GMO food makers turning in their own safety determination reports for review — just like Big Agra giants such as Monsanto already do for their GMO crops now. So, really it would just be more business as usual.
Worse, this bill would exempt ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, typically made of genetically modified corn and found in thousands of products on grocery store shelves. In fact, the bill would exempt so much, it might as well not exist:
The draft further includes provisions that would allow a GMO-free claim to be made on dairy products from cows that consumed GMO feed and drugs developed by biotechnology, as well as foods that have been developed with a genetically engineered enzyme or processing aid, such as cheese and alcohol. (source)
Aside from local farmers and specialty organics, the majority of food sold in America is produced by a grand total of ten mega corporations.
These are the same companies that have been spending millions to defeat state labeling laws. All things considered — genetically modified crops, livestock fed those crops in addition to designer biotech pharmaceuticals, and GMO food additives and enzymes — they probably do not want to have to label GMOs in their food because if they were ever really forced to, virtually everything in an American grocery store would have to have a big fat “Contains GMOs” label on it.
The GMA is a huge industry lobby and includes every one of those ten major food companies above, plus Monsanto, Elanco, Syngenta, McDonald’s, Target, Starbucks, Pfizer, Nielsen, Ecolab, Energizer, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Bayer CropScience, Cargill, Dow, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, and even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Philanthropies just to name a few. (In short, it’s a lot more than just groceries.)
In response, top GMA lobbyist Louis Finkel said, “We’ve fought a mandatory label at the state level because we believe that a mandatory label misinforms consumers.”
General Mills recently opted to make their flagship plain Cheerios cereal GMO-free, but the move has more to do with profits than public concern, as the company had this to say about it:
In the spirit of transparency, we’ve enrolled several products – especially our organic products – in the U.S. Non-GMO Project. We oppose state-based labeling, but we support nationally standardized labeling of non-GMO products in the U.S., where there has generally been no requirement for special labeling. [emphasis added]
As Aaron Dykes of Truthstream Media points out, it all sounds very responsible, but what is General Mills really saying here?
- This major Big Agra player admits they oppose state-based labeling of GMO foods outright.
- The only “transparency” it supports is for voluntarily enrolled (mainly) organic products (from specialty product lines) into the Non-GMO Project.
- It supports labeling on a national basis – but only of Non-GMO products, in a legal atmosphere which actually requires no special labeling requirements.
- i.e. This language would give the impression they support using Non-GMO Labels primarily as a marketing tool to advertise specialty organic options, while keeping the true ingredients of the majority of products – frequently made with GMO ingredients – under wraps, off of labels, and out of most shoppers minds.
Although Connecticut and Maine passed GMO labeling laws, they come with big caveats that at least five Northeastern states with a combined population of 20 million must sign these similar laws before anything is official. Those two states only have about 5 million people, so the whole thing is a real longshot.
On top of everything else, last month GMA sent a letter to the FDA alerting them of plans to petition to allow GMO foods to be labeled “natural”.
Even though 60 other countries have some form of labeling law and 90% of Americans want what should be the simple, basic right to know what’s in their food, pretty soon, unless you grew it or raised it yourself, you won’t even know what food is here anymore.