Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Senate GMO Bill Creates Illusion of Transparency

July 6, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the statement below today after the U.S. Senate voted 65-32 to move forward on bringing a compromise GMO labeling bill introduced by Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to a vote. A final vote on the bill is expected in the coming days. The legislation (S.764) would undermine states’ ability to mandate GMO labeling, exempt many common foods from labeling requirements, and create unnecessary extra steps for consumers to access basic ingredient information. The bill has raised concerns by the FDA, as well as various environmental, food security, and consumer interest groups.
 
“Nearly 90% of Americans support common sense food labeling. Yet the GMO bill voted on by the Senate today is a weak attempt to placate American consumers by creating the illusion of transparency. If this bill was truly intended to expand consumers’ right to know, it would require a clear, easy to read, uniform food labeling standard. Instead, the bill creates a system of electronic codes, symbols, and text that are intentionally confusing to consumers. This labeling system requires consumers to jump through hoops for information that should be very basic and straightforward.  In addition, it lacks any measures to hold companies accountable if they violate these labeling requirements.
 
“More than 30 states across the country, including Hawaiʻi, have made progress on GMO labeling. Just last week Vermont became the first state to require GMO labeling. However, if passed, this legislation would pre-empt implementation of Vermont’s law, and would prohibit other states from developing their own labeling bills. In addition, this bill narrows the definition of genetic engineering, and leaves foods like beef, poultry and eggs without any labeling requirements. This bill is not a good compromise for American consumers and families, and I will do all that I can to defeat it if it comes before the House.”
 
Background:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been recognized as a top advocate for improving our nation’s food system and has long supported transparent and sensible food policy. She strongly opposed legislation known as the DARK Act when it came before the House last year, which would pre-empt state and local laws that already require labeling of genetically modified foods and create a food labeling system based solely on industry science and corporate influences. The congresswoman is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which would require the FDA to clearly label all foods containing genetically-engineered ingredients.  

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